CAD software enables more accurate breast tissue reconstruction
Researchers have used CAD to create an accurate mould of a breast that was used as a visual aid to surgeons in tissue reconstruction operations.
They believe the software, which was employed to design and produce patient specific physical scaffolds, could potentially be used in conjunction with one of the most promising areas of medicine – tissue engineering.
According to lead researcher Professor Dietmar Hutmacher, patients' own cells could be harnessed and grown onto the highly specific scaffold and then transferred to the affected area, avoiding the need to transfer tissue from other parts of the body which can cause large scars, result in considerable blood loss and require five to ten hours of anaesthesia.
To test his theory, Prof Hutmacher and his team performed 3d laser scanning on three female patients who had suffered from breast cancer. The images were then fed into a piece of CAD software, which produced a single image representing the patient's breast.
This image was then printed to form a 3d mould which was used as an operative aid for surgeons who performed autologous tissue reconstructions – the transferring of tissue from another part of the patient's body – on each of the patients.
After each of the operations, the surgeons observed a more perfect shape with a higher degree of symmetry between the breasts. The patients also expressed a higher satisfaction of the surgery outcomes than the control group with respect to shape and symmetry.
"This advance could offer hope to women who have undergone mastectomies," noted Hutmacher. "It's enlightening to see how a technique, first designed for the construction of buildings, bridges and aircraft, is now being used in medicine."
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