Bordeaux University Hospital harnesses Stratasys J750 full-colour 3D printer to support complex kidney surgery

Bordeaux University Hospital is using Stratasys’ J750 full-colour 3D printing system to produce anatomical models for complex kidney tumour removal procedures.

It is one of the only hospitals worldwide to have adopted the J750 platform, thanks in large part to funding from three research partners: the European Union, the regional Council of Nouvelle Aquitaine, and the Bordeaux University Foundation.

The J750 platform is being used to print transparent and colour models of patient anatomy to assist precise kidney-sparing surgery and ultimately improve patient outcomes. Kidney-sparing surgery is a procedure which looks to remove the tumour, while preserving the organ’s healthy tissues.

Being able to print different sections of the models in different colours and then hold it in one’s hand is being highlighted as a huge benefit by the hospital as it enables surgeons to better identify nearby arteries and vessels and work to avoid damaging them once the procedure takes place. Damage to arteries and vessels in kidney-sparing surgery can result in having to remove the organ entirely.

Bordeaux University Hospital has not only seen benefits in the way it approaches these procedures, but also in allaying the concerns of its patients. One patient who recently underwent surgery referenced how seeing a 3D replica of her kidney prior to the procedure brought her comfort because it stopped her imagination running away. A research programme called Rein 3D has now been established to examine the impacts of this greater understanding of surgical processes and to what extent they can enhance the ambulatory care received by the patient.

“Having a 3D printed model comprising the patient’s kidney tumour, main arteries, and vessels – each in a different colour – provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations,” said Prof Jean-Christophe Bernard, Urology Professor at Bordeaux University Hospital. “The ability to visualise the specific location of a tumour in relation to these other elements, all in three dimensions, greatly facilitates our surgical planning and is not easily achievable from a 2D scan.

“Describing kidney tumour removal with a 2D scan or diagram will invariably leave most patients somewhat bewildered. Presenting them with a 3D printed model that clearly shows the tumour puts them at ease and enables the patient to grasp exactly what we’re going to do. Indeed, initial research from patient questionnaires shows that having 3D printed models increases their understanding of the surgery by up to 50%, so it’s a considerable benefit in terms of overall patient care.”

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