As societies emerge from the first wave of Covid-19, Axial3D
(it makes 3-D printing accessible to the entire healthcare sector) is playing its part in helping to transform how doctors understand the effects of the coronavirus.
Working with the respiratory team at the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, the company produced a precision 1:1-scale 3-D model of an actual Covid-19 patient’s lungs. The model was based on CT scans taken on day 14 of infection.
While the patient survived, there may well be long-term damage caused by the virus. On the model, one can clearly see in yellow the inflammatory pus and scarred tissue that sits within the airways and was stopping the patient getting oxygen into their blood.
The model was produced using machine learning algorithms powered by AWS and Formlabs Form 3 printing technology, with the lungs split into 8 parts (these were then joined together after printing using accurately placed magnets).
Splitting the model enables it to be opened up and provide a range of views of just how deep the infection was, delivering ‘unique insights’ into the virus and how it affected the patient’s lungs.
Dr William Loan said that in his 30 years working as a radiologist, he has spent much of that time building pictures of 3-D images of patient pathologies in his mind from their 2-D scans.
“Having access to the model has taken away that additional work to give an accurate picture of the patient’s lungs and the disease within, allowing for faster and incredibly accurate planning discussions.”
Roger Johnston, CEO at Axial3D, said: “When discussing Covid-19 with Dr Loan, we suggested 3-D printing the lungs. He sent us some sets of CT scans, and we printed them in our Formlabs 3D print lab. We now have this incredible result with which we can visualise lungs like they have never been seen before.
“We have been able to provide the team with a completely new way of viewing and understanding the long-term effects of the infection.”