37-year-old Sneha Cipriano discovered she had a large renal artery aneurysm located near the back of her right kidney. This type of aneurysm is extremely rare and is usually found in young women who have had multiple pregnancies. As large aneurysms are more in danger of rupturing, and as a ruptured aneurysm can be life-threatening, it was important to repair it with a surgical graft as soon as possible. However, the position of the aneurysm on the split of the renal artery meant that operating on it with minimal risk would be quite difficult.
Visualizing the aneurysm in 3D
To plan the operation better, senior vascular surgeon Dr. Judith Lin worked with experts at the Henry Ford Innovation Institute to develop a 3D-printed model of the renal artery aneurysm and affected kidney. They first uploaded the patient data into Materialise Mimics and then created a virtual 3D model. Consequently, the team was able to remap Cipriano’s kidney prior to the surgery and harvest a piece of vein from her leg to use as a conduit to repair the aneurysm.
The 3D-printed replica of the patient’s anatomy helped the team to better understand the complexity of the case. The 3D model showed the abdominal aorta with the right renal artery leading into the right kidney, where it split into two blood vessels. On the model, the exact location of aneurysm is clearly visible at the split of the renal artery. Using the 3D model, Dr. Lin could then plan what would be required during surgery to successfully repair the aneurysm.
Improving the surgical outcome with 3D Printing
The outcome of the operation was successful, as Cipriano reported she felt much better and was able to resume her normal activities again. “The 3D model was very effective, and we were able to reconstruct her aneurysm prior to surgery,” Dr. Lin says. “It allowed me to better visualize the complexity of the aneurysm and plan the operations accordingly to minimize the risk of complications.”
Cipriano’s case is believed to have been the first renal artery aneurysm in the United States where the surgery was planned using a 3D-printed model. For Dr. Lin and the Henry Ford Hospital, this is one more patient they have been able to provide with better healthcare due to the insight afforded by 3D-printed models, and the technology has the potential to benefit many other patients with complex and rare conditions.