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3D planning and simulation used at Barcelona hospital to resect tumour and save child’s eye

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The maxillofacial surgery and oncology team at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital has performed 3D planning and simulation of the resection of a tumour in a young patient’s cheekbone, saving the child’s eye.

The operation was a complicated procedure to resect the malignant tumour in the 11-year-old boy. The planning and simulation took place with BCN3D’s 3D printing technology. An image was created from the skull of the patient, which was then printed in the hospital’s 3D printing laboratory. Creating the two 3D pieces of the patient’s skull was essential for the doctors to achieve the extraction with maximum precision.

The team used a W27 3D printer from BCN3D’s Epsilon series. The double extruder head of the printer and amorphous polymer ABS used, provided the necessary realism for doctors to plant the actual surgical intervention based on the exact resection of the entirety of the child’s eye tumour, a facial osteosarcoma.

“Nowadays, 3D planning at the SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital is standard practice in maxillofacial surgery, especially in very complex cases such as the one we dealt with in this child,” said Dr. Josep Rubio, head of the maxillofacial surgery unit at the hospital. 

Dr. Rubio explained the process in detail, saying: “We had to create cutting and positioning guides to transfer the virtual planning from the computer to the operating theatre. This has allowed us to execute what we designed virtually with precision to be able to extract the safety margins next to the tumour as we previously designed.”

Dr. Adaila Valls, maxillofacial surgeon at SJD Barcelona Children’s Hospital said: “3D printing helped us to avoid potential postoperative complications and improved the quality for both the patient and the surgical process. After weeks of surgical planning, we were able to perform a complete resection of the lesion and also preserve the patient’s vision.”

The patient, Andrés, was diagnosed with retinoblastoma when he was 11 months old. He was treated at the hospital in Barcelona in 2016, and recovered from the first tumour after two years of treatment. 

However, as Andrés carried the germline gene, the doctors told his parents that the boy could suffer a type of cancer in his bone system, something that eventually happened later on when he developed a facial osteosarcoma.

The treatment plan included carrying out chemotherapy for three months, before a fundamental part of the treatment, the control of the lesion, began.

At SJD Barcelona Children’s, 3D printing is used in over 200 surgeries a year. They first began using the technology in 2013 after a doctor specifically requested a bio model to compliment the planning of a complex oncological case. Since then, a multidisciplinary group has been created of nine different specialities that benefit from 3D printing.


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