Medical phantoms with accurate tissue-mimicking properties and anatomical structures are vital for evaluation of imaging system performance, calibration of medical devices, and training medical staff in techniques such as ultrasonography. Tissue-mimicking phantoms based on Agar/gelatin and polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) materials have been developed, however, they are fragile, exhibit dehydration problems and cannot reproduce complex structures. There is an ongoing need for novel tissue-mimicking materials and phantom fabrication methods. Three-dimensional (3D) printing additive technology allows direct formation of the object layer by layer and provides freedom in object design.
Various 3D printing materials have been employed from metal and ceramics to resins and polymers. Unfortunately, commercially available 3D printing materials don’t have suitable physical properties to mimick tissue. In this work, we describe the development of a novel 3D printing technology based on an original soft tissue-mimicking material, Gel Wax, a mixture of polymer and mineral oil. This material is soft, optically and acoustically clear and does not dehydrate. The optical, acoustic and mechanical properties of the material can be tailored to mimic biological tissues by embedding titanium dioxide, dyes, glass microspheres, or paraffin wax. Gel Wax cannot be made into a conventional filament and we designed a novel 3D printing techniques.
We demonstrate hippocampus models directly printed using our proposed Gel Wax 3D printer. This technology holds a great promise for fabricating patient-specific medical phantoms. This opens the door for 3D printing to provide new affordable medical phantoms to enable widespread application in biomedical field.
Daniil I. Nikitichev, Sandy Mosse, Sebastien Ourselin, and Tom Vercauteren, "Novel 3D printing technology for direct fabrication of tissue-mimicking phantoms (Conference Presentation)," Proc. SPIE 10494, Photons Plus Ultrasound: Imaging and Sensing 2018, 1049424 (Presented at SPIE BiOS: January 30, 2018; Published: 15 March 2018); https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2287439.5752213093001.
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