Mayo Clinic’s 3D printing operations growing, changing medicine along the way

It started with one magical mannequin, no devoted house and some employees who noticed the transformative energy of molded plastics, printed layer by layer right into a bodily, life-size anatomical illustration.

This 3D-printed reproduction of conjoined twins was the massive bang from which Mayo Clinic’s 3D anatomical modeling observe has exploded.

“We started doing 3D printing about 17 years ago at Mayo Clinic for a complex case involving congenital twins. And it’s expanded over that time frame to encompass every surgical subspecialty,” says Jonathan Morris, M.D., medical director and co-founder of the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. “The reason it started all in-house is because we have subspecialty expertise in each part of the process. We had these complex problems, and we found that 3D printing aided in understanding them in a three-dimensional, life-size way that 2D images could not.”

Growth and growth

Over 17 years and counting, the observe has expanded in dimension and scope, with growing square-footage devoted at Mayo Clinic to the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit in Rochester and new and rising areas in Arizona and Florida.

Each group is led by devoted physicians, researchers, engineers, technologists and extra, all dedicated to making sure these helpful instruments can be found to any doctor, surgeon, researcher or educator who wants them. In addition to Dr. Morris, Rahmi Oklu, M.D., Ph.D., is medical director of the Arizona group. Elizabeth M. Johnson, M.D., is medical director of the Florida group, and Robert Pooley, Ph.D., is the technical director in Florida.

The house in the Joseph Building at Mayo Clinic Hospital – Rochester, Saint Marys Campus is now about 8,000 sq. ft of producing house with 16 employees and 15 3D printers that use a broader array of supplies than have been obtainable in 2006. The 3D Anatomic Modeling group in Arizona has about 1,000 sq. ft, 9 printers and two employees, and the group in Florida has almost 1,000 sq. ft, with further house to permit for additional growth to nearly 1,200 sq. ft, 10 printers and two full-time employees and 5 further group members.

This development ensures Mayo is ready to meet the wants of the affected person, Dr. Morris says. “The space and the technology we have are unique for a healthcare institution, but it only exists because the needs of the patients dictated it.”

At Mayo Clinic in Arizona and Florida, the lab areas are newer endeavors than in Rochester, reflecting the surging demand for patient-specific fashions and reducing guides for individualized care — and for advancing the science. Arizona and Florida had 3D printers, however they now have houses to permit for continued development.

“It’s nice. It’s brand-new, there’s a lot of orange — I like orange,” Dr. Oklu says of the new house in Arizona, which opened in 2020.

Where it started

In Rochester, the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit completed development in 2021 on an expanded house that higher accommodates what has turn out to be a booming observe — with about 900 fashions and 1,200 reducing guides produced every year.

“Mayo Clinic is really setting the path for others to follow,” says Adam Wentworth, a senior engineer in the Rochester 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit. “The development of this space could not have occurred without the vision from administration and the passion of the leadership of Dr. Jonathan Morris and Dr. Jane Matsumoto, who started the lab. The effort that they have put in outside of their normal working hours to lift up the lab and communicate its capabilities to everyone else and the surgical champions who have communicated the benefit of anatomic modeling were also a huge factor in the success of the lab.”

He says the returns on the investments are obvious every single day.

“Physicians and surgeons are able to have the life-size 3D model in their hands,” says Tori Sears, one other engineer in the Rochester 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit. “They can visualize where a tumor is exactly located within the anatomy that’s usually covered up by soft tissue. They make measurements right on the model and can better understand through haptic perception where that tumor is located, what adjacent critical structures are nearby and what is the best approach to minimize procedure times.”

Dr. Morris says you will need to have the 3D anatomic modeling observe as a part of the Department of Radiology.

“When you combine everything together and you centralize it within the Department of Radiology, you can serve just not one specialty, you can serve all of them,” he says. “We’re an integrated team of people who are coming together to solve complex surgical problems. And we’re using engineering, 3D printing, custom medical device manufacturing and surgical expertise all together, instead of each one of us working apart.”

Where it is going: Arizona

Dr. Oklu says 3D printing in Arizona is a “three shields” endeavor, touching training, analysis and the scientific observe.

With the debut of the new house, Dr. Oklu had supposed to supply alternatives for employees to study 3D printing — how the printers work and the best way to order fashions and guides. After being sidelined by the pandemic, that effort is restarting.

“My plan is to go to every department to present what we do and what we could do,” Dr. Oklu says. “I want to open it up so people can learn what 3D printing is. Everyone’s curious, they just don’t know how to do it.”

He says the lab will not stray from what Florida and Rochester do on the scientific facet. “I try to help, whatever the request is.”

Research, nonetheless, is the place Dr. Oklu sees his lab distinguishing itself from the different websites. His roles as a clinician investigator and the head of the Laboratory of Patient-Inspired Engineering overlap along with his work with 3D printing. Among the many developments he’s exploring are a couple of dozen biomaterials that he hopes can cease bleeding, ship focused therapies to tumors, embolize blood vessels and extra.

“We’re trying to use our materials to treat aneurysms. The hardest part is making a model,” he says. “We’re thinking maybe we can 3D print the aneurysm to tell us that our biomaterial is working.”

Dr. Oklu sees principally incremental modifications on the horizon in additive manufacturing. “The materials are going to change, the printers are going to change — they’re going to become faster, more widely available, maybe even cheaper — but it will still be the same 3D-printed models.”

Biomaterial printing, although, might be the subsequent revolution in 3D printing, he provides, and he hopes the analysis he’s doing in printing aneurysms will assist spur that development.

“Continued investment will ensure 3D printing remains an important part of patient-focused care at Mayo Clinic,” Dr. Oklu says. “We’ve come a long way, but we’re just getting started.”

Where it is going: Florida

In Florida, the group simply debuted its newly expanded house. When the program started, they simply had a printer on a desk, however shortly grew into an area of about 500 sq. ft the place the lab has operated for the final 5 years. With their new house of about 1,000 sq. ft, in addition they added an engineer and biomedical technician devoted to preserving the printers running.

Dr. Pooley says he acknowledged there could be a requirement for these providers in Florida about six years in the past and bought approval to start a program from J. Mark McKinney, M.D., chair of Florida Department of Radiology at the time.

One of their first affected person circumstances, requested by Si Pham, M.D., now the chair of Cardiothoracic Surgery in Florida, was a cardiac case. “The patient had a tumor in between the left and the right atria,” Dr. Pooley says. “We worked with the radiologist, Dr. Carlos Rojas, and Dr. Pham to segment the model. And we were able to print it on our 3D printer, which had a small build volume — about 6 inches by 6 inches by 6 inches. And the printer prints in just a single material and a single color.”

The end result, in white, was printed with about 10 completely different components that might be assembled with magnets. The group painted all the components in several colours — crimson and blue with the tumor in yellow.

In the early days, Dr. Pooley and whichever employees have been working with him on a venture would use the similar computer-aided design software program as was utilized in Rochester and Arizona. And for tasks that exceeded their printing capabilities, they might ship the information to Rochester for printing. The fashions would then be shipped to Florida.

“Rochester was a huge resource that we could learn from,” he says.

Although surgeons might request 3D-printed fashions from the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit in Rochester, there’s an immense profit to with the ability to work with colleagues on the similar campus, Dr. Pooley says.

“Over the last six years, we demonstrated our value of being able to print locally in Florida,” Dr. Pooley says. “And part of the value is being able to work closely with surgeons and physicians in Florida.”

Dr. Johnson says her place got here with a number of questions, partly as a result of 3D printing was new to her normally and partly as a result of the medical director position was new in Florida. Her important roles are working with Carleigh Eagle, an engineer with the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit, and serving to with segmentation, in addition to evangelizing about 3D printing and the methods it might probably assist the work of different specialists.

“It was a big learning curve. I really didn’t know that much about 3D printing at all, not just the technology and how it worked, but what the applications were in the medical field,” she says, including that the expertise has been eye-opening and rewarding.

Demand for the program’s providers, although, was rising, and Dr. Pooley knew it was time to request more room. The growth of the campus at Mayo Clinic in Florida offered the alternative.

The worth of 3D printing extends past scientific care to training and analysis, Dr. Johnson says. “On the research side, we are active with a lot of different departments and divisions around the hospital, as well as working with the Innovation Exchange and the Simulation Center and helping with educational projects for patients and surgical residents and fellows.”

Dr. Johnson says the Florida group was impressed by a current go to to Rochester, the place they have been in a position to discover the house and study extra about the observe. This additional opened their eyes to the prospects of their rising observe, she says.

“I just feel so fortunate to work for an institution that values and believes in what 3D printing can do for our patients in the present and in the future,” she provides.

With the arrival of Jeffrey Janus, M.D., otorhinolaryngologist, to Mayo Clinic in Florida from Rochester, the want for extra assets grew to become extra obvious. “He had worked in Rochester with the Anatomic Modeling Unit here to make cutting guides,” Dr. Pooley says. “So when Dr. Janus came to Florida, he brought cutting guides with him. And because we did not have an engineer, when he would put in a request, the engineers in Rochester would create the design for the cutting guides and send the print files to Florida, and we could print them locally.”

The development growth meant his group would have devoted house for extra printers and other people, particularly a full-time engineer devoted to the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit. “We were able to add printers, including a new, large-format, multicolor, multimaterial printer, and we were able to hire our first dedicated, full-time engineer,” Dr. Pooley says.

There was broad assist for growth in house and other people, Dr. Pooley says, and the stars aligned for the group to rent Eagle, an engineer who was an intern with the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit in Florida in summer season 2021, and Mark P. Lopez, a healthcare biomedical technician, in addition to to construct a brand new house in the Campus Support Center, a couple of half-mile from the clinic buildings.

“With that space we were able to design a facility that met all of our needs,” he says.

Eagle says the group’s transformation in the 12 months since her internship ended is stark.

“Starting out it was like a garage-shop operation,” she says. “You know, we had these specialized cases, and it was all word-of-mouth if you knew that we were there.”

Coming again now as a full-time engineer, it was an emotional second seeing the new house.

“This was everything we ever could have wanted,” she says. “It appears like the sky’s the restrict. It appears like when physicians or researchers or whoever it’s come to us they usually have an issue, or they’ve a necessity, we will work out an answer.

“And tying back to the leadership, everybody has been like, ‘Yes, make this happen’ for us in Florida. It’s just been so exciting. It’s been a journey.”

And the early returns are promising.

Dr. Pooley says a surgeon lately discovered about the 3D Anatomic Modeling Unit — on a Wednesday — and reached out for assist with a case. The group shortly circled a mannequin, which he delivered to the surgeon Sunday.

“The surgeon just glowed, and his eyes brightened up as he held the model in his hands,” Dr. Pooley says. “And as he turned the life-size model around, he said, ‘You know, I need to do this and this in the surgery.’ It was very positive feedback.”

The massive image

Interconnected 3D Anatomic Modeling Units in Arizona, Florida and Rochester permit for cross-site collaborations, and convey completely different views and experiences to affected person care.

“We have very unique minds and are looking for ways to approach and solve different problems, and you’re able to have different, diverse perspectives,” Sears says. “I think all of us joining as a whole, we’re going to be able to solve many complex problems coming up, and we’re going to be able to be more innovative because you’re adding more unique minds to our problem-solving.”

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