Professors at the College of Engineering, Pune (CoEP) in India have developed a software system making 3D printing in hospitals more accessible to doctors.
The Osto3D program is a computer aided design (CAD) platform that can be used by physicians without any experience of 3D modeling.
Proving its utility, the software has been used to help replace the ear of a 32 year old woman named Rucha from the Kondhwa neighbourhood in the suburbs of Pune. According to reports, Rucha is “very happy now after the ear has been fixed.”
From CT scan to .stl
Osto3D was developed at CoEP by professors Vikas Chougule, Arati Mulay, and director B B Ahuja. Major Abir Sarkar, a practicing doctor at the Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC) in Pune, also helped apply the program to Rucha’s physiology.
“The case is a joint collaboration between CoEP and AFMC, which is a first in the country.” – Professor Vikas Chougule
With the program, doctors at AFMC were able to model a new ear for Rucha based on a CT scan of her remaining ear. Remarkably, the program is capable importing raw CT scan data and converting it into point clouds that can then be connected to make a 3D CAD file. Data from CT scans is typically so large that it cannot easily be crunched into a workable model.
Once a CAD file is made, Osto3D exports the model as an .stl file which, in Rucha’s case, was 3D printed at CoEP’s on-site RepFab facility.
A first in the country
The process has been tremendously efficient at saving time on such a procedure. Osto3D co-developer Professor Chougule explains, “The conventional process takes almost two weeks, which is replaced by just 30 minutes, for modelling the missing ear,”
“Earlier, the patient had to pay more than three-four visits to the surgeon. But now, within three hours, the model of the ear and mould is fabricated with expected accuracy.”
Chougule adds, “The case is a joint collaboration between CoEP and AFMC, which is a first in the country.”
A vision of the future of 3D printing in medicine
The ultimate goal of 3D printing in healthcare is for hospitals to be equipped with their own integrated 3D lab.
As we see this trend reach maturation around the world, programs such as CoEP’s Osto3D will be an integral link between the facilities and their practising counterparts, streamlining the supply chain between fabrication and point-of-care.
In an article for the Pune Mirror the Osto3D patient, Rucha, comments, “I am very happy now after the ear has been fixed. The AFMC doctors have done a great job, replicating the exact look of my ear.”
“No one can figure out that it is an artificial ear. I want to thank the doctors and the CoEP team for giving me a new lease of life.”
The program has also received the approval of peers at the Ruby Hall Clinic in Pune.
Dr. Sumit Saxena a cosmetic surgeon at the clinic, was impressed by the expediency of the systems, saying “It [typically] takes around 10 to 15 days for us to make it. But, such technology will help cut down the costs of making a prosthetic ear.”
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Featured image: CoEP is part of the University of Pune, India. Photo of the main university building via College Search