Liesbeth Kemel April 21, 2016

15-year-old Parker Turchan was faced with an unexpected and life-threatening tumor, located in his nose and sinuses, and which extended all the way through his skull to his brain. Referred to the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, doctors faced the limitations of conventional endoscopy as the sinus tumor extended so deep into the bone they were unable to visualize it completely.

Known as juvenile nasopharyngeal angiofibroma, the tumor in Parker’s nose is a rare condition that appears most often in young male teens. The tumor manifested itself in his skull in two large parts, right in the center of the craniofacial skeleton below the brain and next to the nerves controlling eye movement and vision.

3D-printed sinus tumor model
Courtesy of Mott Children's Hospital

“Parker had an uncommon, large, high-stage tumor in a very challenging area,” says Dr. David Zopf, pediatric head and neck surgeon at C.S. Mott Children’s hospital. “The tumor’s location and size had me question whether a minimally invasive approach would allow us to remove the tumor completely.”

Parker’s father, Karl Turchan, said that “We were obviously concerned about the risks involved in this kind of procedure, which we knew could lead to a lot of blood loss and was sensitive because it was so close to the nerves in his face.”

As the case was so rare and Parker’s doctors were unsure about their next course of action, the team turned to 3D Printing to craft a replica of the boy’s skull. By creating a 3D model based on CT images of Parker’s skull through specialized Materialise software, Dr. Zopf and his team were able to go through the surgery beforehand, step by step. “It was pretty impressive to see the model of Parker’s skull ahead of the surgery. We had no idea this was even possible,” Parker’s father commented. During the surgery, the team documented their procedure and found that the removed sinus tumor was identical to the 3D print.

Medical 3D Printing plays a large part in some of the rarer cases found at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, and it has been an established part of their workflow for nearly five years now. “We are finding more and more uses for 3D Printing in medicine,” Dr. Zopf says. “It is proving to be a powerful tool that will allow for enhanced patient care.”

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