“From Academia” features recent, relevant, close to commercialization academic publications in the space of healthcare 3D printing, 3D bioprinting, and related emerging technologies. In this issue, we included a user suitability study focusing on neurosurgical training using 3D printed anatomical models, an article exploring the actuation of 3D printed soft robotic microsystem, and a review paper discussing the current status and future potential of vat photopolymerization 3D printing in medical device and drug delivery space.
Neurosurgical simulator for training aneurysm microsurgery—a user suitability study involving neurosurgeons and residents
Authored by Fredrick Johnson Joseph, Stefan Weber, Andreas Raabe & David Bervini. Neurosurgery Training, 11 August 2020
Due to its complexity and to existing treatment alternatives, exposure to intracranial aneurysm microsurgery at the time of neurosurgical residency is limited. The current state of the art includes training methods like assisting in surgeries, operating under supervision, and video training. These approaches are labor-intensive and difficult to fit into a timetable limited by the new work regulations. Existing virtual reality (VR)–based training modules lack patient-specific exercises and haptic properties and are thus inferior to hands-on training sessions and exposure to real surgical procedures. We developed a physical simulator able to reproduce the experience of clipping an intracranial aneurysm based on a patient-specific 3D-printed model of the skull, brain, and arteries. The simulator is made of materials that not only imitate tissue properties including arterial wall patency, thickness, and elasticity but also able to recreate a pulsatile blood flow. A sample group of 25 neurosurgeons and residents (n = 16: early residency with less than 4 years of neurosurgical exposure; n = 9: late residency and board-certified neurosurgeons, 4–15 years of neurosurgical exposure) took part to the study. Participants evaluated the simulator and were asked to answer questions about surgical simulation anatomy, realism, haptics, tactility, and general usage, scored on a 5-point Likert scale. In order to evaluate the feasibility of a future validation study on the role of the simulator in neurosurgical postgraduate training, an expert neurosurgeon assessed participants’ clipping performance and a comparison between groups was done. The proposed simulator is reliable and potentially useful for training neurosurgical residents and board-certified neurosurgeons. A large majority of participants (84%) found it a better alternative than conventional neurosurgical training methods. The integration of a new surgical simulator including blood circulation and pulsatility should be considered as part of the future armamentarium of postgraduate education aimed to ensure high training standards for current and future generations of neurosurgeons involved in intracranial aneurysm surgery.
Authored by Murat Kaynak, Pietro Dirix, Mahmut, Selman Sakar. Advanced Science. 21 September 2020
A design, manufacturing, and control methodology is presented for the transduction of ultrasound into the frequency‐selective actuation of multibody hydrogel mechanical systems. The modular design of compliant mechanisms is compatible with direct laser writing and the multiple degrees of freedom actuation scheme does not require incorporation of any specific material such as air bubbles. These features pave the way for the development of active scaffolds and soft robotic microsystems from biomaterials with tailored performance and functionality. Finite element analysis and computational fluid dynamics are used to quantitatively predict the performance of acoustically powered hydrogels immersed in the fluid and guide the design process. The outcome is the remotely controlled operation of a repertoire of untethered biomanipulation tools including monolithic compound micromachinery with multiple pumps connected to various functional devices. The potential of the presented technology for minimally invasive diagnosis and targeted therapy is demonstrated by a soft microrobot that can on‐demand collect, encapsulate, and process microscopic samples.
Authored by Xiaoyan Xu, Atheer Awad, Pamela Robles Martinez, Simon Gaisford, Alvaro Goyanes, Abdul W. Basit. Journal of Controlled Release. 5 October 2020
Three-dimensional (3D) printing is transforming manufacturing paradigms within healthcare. Vat photopolymerization 3D printing technology combines the benefits of high resolution and favourable printing speed, offering a sophisticated approach to fabricate bespoke medical devices and drug delivery systems. Herein, an overview of the vat polymerization techniques, their unique applications in the fields of drug delivery and medical device fabrication, material examples and the advantages they provide within healthcare, is provided. The outstanding challenges and drawbacks presented by this technology are also discussed. It is forecast that the adoption of 3D printing could pave the way for a personalised health system, advancing from traditional treatments pathways towards digital healthcare and streamlining a new cyber era.