Medical & Dental

3D Systems launches virtual reality simulator featuring a 3D printed spine

The Simbionix SPINE Mentor, is hands-on simulated training and practice tool for minimally invasive spine surgeries.

The medical training tool combines virtual reality simulation, 3D printing and medical tools to create a hybrid solution that extends the company’s broad portfolio into spinal surgery training. 3D Systems tell us that the SPINE Mentor is “ideal for neurosurgeons, anesthesiologists, orthopedic surgeons and pain management surgeons to train for and practice procedures.

The aforementioned groups would traditionally train using cadavers. According to 3D Systems, the SPINE Mentor provides a greater degree of realism and helps trainees gain the skills and confidence needed to perform spine surgery on living patients.

Combining virtual reality and 3D printing

The system features a 3D printed spine for accurate palpation, a computer/monitor and a highly realistic puncture pad with different anatomical layers including the Ligamentum Flavum to practice needle penetration. The simulation setup, “allows tissue response, including the loss of resistance when entering the epidural space, and eliminates the need to practice with real fluoroscopy by simulating real-time fluoroscopic image displays for the entire spine.”

Kevin McAlea, Executive Vice President, General Manager, Metals and Healthcare, 3D Systems says, “As the demand for simulators grows due to the reluctance of medical institutions to use animals in training, 3D Systems continues to invest in simulator development to satisfy the needs of this expanding market.” McAlea adds, “Our commitment to patient safety and our contribution to spinal surgery doesn’t stop with training. In the operating room, our unique Direct Metal Printing (DMP) technology delivers precise spinal implants.”

Building precision healthcare capabilities

3D Systems acquired Simbionix in 2014 for a reported $120 million. In the same year the company also acquired Medical Modelling Inc. Since 2014, 3D Systems has worked to incorporate these acquisitions within their wider operations. This is most evident at the 3D Systems healthcare facility in Colorado, which 3D Printing Industry visited at the end of last year.

3D Systems healthcare facility in Colorado. Photo by Michael Petch.
3D Systems healthcare facility in Colorado. Photo by Michael Petch.

The SPINE Mentor will be available for demonstration at the Society in Europe for Simulation Applied to Medicine (SESAM) Annual Meeting 2017. The meeting takes places from June 14th-16tbh, in Paris, France. 3D Systems can be found at booth #EX22.

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Featured image shows the 3D Systems Simbionix Spine Mentor.