3D printed boluses help to improve radiotherapy standards
Application of the 3D printing technology in the area of healthcare is not a fancy daydream. Instead we can forecast that this technology will be playing a bigger role in the future development of medicine.
It is commonly known that nowadays many hospitals have limited financial resources. We hope this case will serve as inspiration for all of you who have been limited by the financial constraints in the medical field.
LACK OF EFFICIENT SOLUTIONS FOR FIGHTING DISEASE
Although the 21st century medicine seems to develop dynamically, there are still some areas that lack efficient solutions when it comes to fighting diseases. One of the most common diseases that causes suffering of millions of people in the world is cancer. Suggested treatment may vary but the commonly applied method for curing cancer that appears on or just below skin often involves regular radiation. Unfortunately, during this procedure, the tissue that surrounds the affected area is exposed to X-rays. To avoid this, special boluses, usually made of wax, are applied to patients but producing them is time- and labour-intensive and there is no guarantee that the end result will be precise enough to provide efficient protection from X-rays.
3D PRINTING SOLUTION IN POLISH HOSPITAL
In a hospital in Poland, Doctors Magdalena Łukowiak, Marek Boehlke and Marzena Więcko saw the so called ‘spark’ in 3D printing technology. The aim of specialists from the West Pomeranian Center of Oncology in Szczecin was to create end-use products that could be used during radiation treatments to provide protection to the unaffected tissue. The 3D printing solution was expected to be precise, time-efficient and as hands-free as possible. Zortrax M200 was used to help the team to reduce the suffering of the patients and start reshaping the present treatment.
UNIQUE AND TAILOR-MADE BOLUSES FOR CANCER PATIENTS
Each bolus is unique and tailor-made for each individual cancer patient. Such personalisation is possible thanks to the computer tomography that each of the patients undergo. During this procedure the dosage of X-rays is being calculated and the oncologists end up with a digital image and exact shape of the bolus. To get a 3D image of a bolus it is required to use special software to convert the DIOCOM data into files that a 3D printer can read, like .stl. Then the process of 3D printing can start. Compared to traditional methods, the time of the prototyping was reduced as 3D printing took a couple of hours, depending on the size of each bolus.
30% REDUCTION OF RADIATION ON UNAFFECTED TISSUE
The use of 3D printing technique resulted in creating precise shapes of boluses, which were able to reduce the radiation of unaffected tissue by 30%. The 3D printed boluses are similar to those designed at the planning stage from 83-100%. When it comes to the dispersion of the radiation the differences are no more than 2%. Achieving such results is more than satisfying, bearing in mind that this level of precision would not be possible using the traditional methods.