Neurosurgical residents are finding it more difficult to obtain experience as the primary operator in aneurysm surgery. The present study aimed to replicate patient-derived cranial anatomy, pathology and human tissue properties relevant to cerebral aneurysm intervention through 3D printing and 3D print-driven casting techniques. The final simulator was designed to provide accurate simulation of a human head with a middle cerebral artery (MCA) aneurysm.
This study utilized living human and cadaver-derived medical imaging data including CT angiography and MRI scans. Computer-aided design (CAD) models and pre-existing computational 3D models were also incorporated in the development of the simulator. The design was based on including anatomical components vital to the surgery of MCA aneurysms while focusing on reproducibility, adaptability and functionality of the simulator. Various methods of 3D printing were utilized for the direct development of anatomical replicas and moulds for casting components that optimized the bio-mimicry and mechanical properties of human tissues. Synthetic materials including various types of silicone and ballistics gelatin were cast in these moulds. A novel technique utilizing water-soluble wax and silicone was used to establish hollow patient-derived cerebrovascular models.
A patient-derived 3D aneurysm model was constructed for a MCA aneurysm. Multiple cerebral aneurysm models, patient-derived and CAD, were replicated as hollow high-fidelity models. The final assembled simulator integrated six anatomical components relevant to the treatment of cerebral aneurysms of the Circle of Willis in the left cerebral hemisphere. These included models of the cerebral vasculature, cranial nerves, brain, meninges, skull and skin. The cerebral circulation was modeled through the patient-derived vasculature within the brain model. Linear and volumetric measurements of specific physical modular components were repeated, averaged and compared to the original 3D meshes generated from the medical imaging data. Calculation of the concordance correlation coefficient (ρ c: 90.2%–99.0%) and percentage difference (≤0.4%) confirmed the accuracy of the models.