Today in Good 3D-Printing News: Model of Her Tumor Helped Save Woman’s Sight
A happy ending!
Earlier this week we wrote about Mohammad Sayed, the sixteen-year-old who used a 3D-printer to inexpensively make huge updates to his wheelchair; and now, in another example of the autonomy 3D-printing can give people over their health, MakeZine is reporting that Pamela Shauvan Scott and her husband Michael Balzer used their maker expertise to get a crucial second medical opinion.
When doctors discovered Scott’s tumor during an appointment for her frequent migraines, they assured her that the growth was non-problematic. Sensing that the issue was significant, the couple sent Scott’s MRI results to neurologists across the U.S., and received the diagnosis they were afraid of: she needed surgery, as soon as possible.
In the meantime, Balzer, a 3D-printing enthusiast and former software engineer for the Air Force, used Scott’s imaging files and a Photoshop mockup to monitor the tumor’s development. Then he decided to really put his expertise to use:
I thought, ‘why don’t we take it to the next level? Let’s see what kind of tools are available so that I can take the DICOMs (digital format for medical imaging data), which are 2D slices, and convert them into a 3D model.
Balzer (who explained in a MakeZine comment section that “Pamela did all the research on the medical end, she is the person to have at your side when things go south. Think of me as her IT department”) created a 3D rendering of his wife’s cranium with a representation of the tumor, then put the images up on Sketchfab. There, the model was seen by a neurosurgeon who recommended a minimally invasive surgery that would extract the growth via Scott’s eyelid (to assist with the procedure, Balzer even sent the doctor a life-sized 3D model of his wife’s skull).
By the time Scott’s tumor was successfully removed last year, it was close to causing permanent damage to her optic nerves. Had she waited even six more months, her vision might have been irreparably damaged.