Three-dimensional (3D) printing applications in medicine have been limited due to high cost and technical difficulty of creating 3D printed objects. It is not known whether patient-specific, hollow, small-caliber vascular models can be manufactured with 3D printing, and used for small vessel endoluminal testing of devices.
Manufacture of anatomically accurate, patient-specific, small-caliber arterial models was attempted using data from a patient’s CT scan, free open-source software, and low-cost Internet 3D printing services.
Prior to endovascular treatment of a patient with multiple splenic artery aneurysms, a 3D printed model was used preoperatively to test catheter equipment and practice the procedure. A second model was used intraoperatively as a reference.
Full-scale plastic models were successfully produced. Testing determined the optimal puncture site for catheter positioning. A guide catheter, base catheter, and microcatheter combination selected during testing was used intraoperatively with success, and the need for repeat angiograms to optimize image orientation was minimized. A difficult and unconventional procedure was successful in treating the aneurysms while preserving splenic function. We conclude that creation of small-caliber vascular models with 3D printing is possible. Free software and low-cost printing services make creation of these models affordable and practical. Models are useful in preoperative planning and intraoperative guidance.