In late 2016, Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon Mark Allen, M.D. was part of a surgical team that used a 3D printed model to help them prepare to remove a rare, intrusive pancoast tumor. The tumor had grown in the chest of a patient, between his ribs and among the vessels just above his lungs.
By demonstrating precisely where the tumor was in the body, and its proximity to neighboring structures, the 3D model permitted Dr. Allen to remove the tumor in a way that preserved the surrounding vessels and facilitated a successful reconstruction of the patient's thoracic cavity.
"When you have a 3D model, you can hold it and rotate it around. It gives you all the relationships with everything and where things are located," Dr. Allen says. "Within a millimeter of accuracy, you see the same things you will find internally."
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