Along with robotic surgery come … 3D printed prostate models?

So a research study from the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California has provided some very preliminary information about the utility of 3D printed models as surgical aids to radical prostatectomy.

The basic idea is that one makes an individualized, 3D-printed model of a patient’s prostate — inclusive of the positioning of known areas of cancer — prior to surgery so that one can study it carefully before the operation and have it available in the operating suite to re-examine during the procedure if necessary. For more information, have a look here on the Medscape web  site. The study’s authors claim that it may help to minimize damage to the neurovascular bundles during surgery or to avoid positive surgical margins.

It’s an interesting concept. But it is worth noting the comment from Dr. James Moller about the potential of this idea:

Robotic surgery is visual, and using a preoperative visual model is similar to using preoperative warm-up; both are excellent ideas.

However, cancer control is paramount to neurovascular bundle preservation, and many more cases need modeled and pathological and oncological results tabulated and reviewed before this very interesting concept, developed and reported in five men, can be adopted for clinical use.

The “New” Prostate Cancer InfoLink commends the authors for their ingenuity, but suspects that it will be a while before this sort of pre-surgical aid has the potential to be used routinely in pre-surgical planning for surgical removal of the prostate.

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