CIOReview | Wednesday, July 11, 2018
3D printing has become one of the most publicized and advantageous technologies of the era with affordable houses being printed for refugees to creating flexible prosthetics. The novel revolution taking place within the medical realm is 3D modeling of the brain to help improve diagnosis or determine the size and condition of tumors or injured organs. The models are created based on the detailed images supplied through MRI and CT scans, which often makes it hard to differentiate the interest area from surrounding tissues.
Generally, a radiologist tracks the progress of the interest area across various slides of the organ and creates a polygon mesh of the area. This mesh is converted into a grayscale pixel image of black and white, with a gray shade from within the grayscale of the image used to create a boundary. Even though brain’s 3D printed models are created with this method it is not completely practical as often the end images under-represents the interest area or over exaggerates it, while forsaking the surrounding details.
To prevent this predicament, MIT graduate Steven Keating and Harvard’s Wyss Institute has recently devised far better strategies to help design a much more accurate model of the organ. The scan images of an organ are readily used to print the interest area with higher precision and detail. The new technique uses a dither-based bitmap that highlights different shades of gray with different size of black ink dots and creates a boundary between the necessary and unnecessary details. The end model provides distinguishable details seen by a human eye at a distance of 9 inches from the source.
This technique can be applied to other important areas of the anatomy and it considerably reduces the time and costs spend on printing compared to the previous methods.