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Proto3000 Inc.


3-D Scanner Helps Patient in Battle Against Cancer

Solution creates a versatile prosthetic nose

Published: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 - 05:00

(Proto3000: Vaughan, ON, Canada) -- A patient had to undergo the surgical ablation of most of her nose, because of a skin cancer that had attacked her right nasal septum.

Following the surgery, a period of time was needed for a scar to form before a rhinoplasty could be considered. But during that time, the patient was at risk of the tissue sagging or of permanent deformation of the surrounding tissues—which might not be repairable by plastic surgery.

Beyond biological considerations, the psychological after-effects of such procedures on the patient’s self-esteem and social reintegration had to be measured and taken into account. This body part, more than any other, enables human beings to identify and define themselves in relation to others; that is why there was no doubt whatsoever that such a prosthesis was of the utmost importance. After careful consideration of all of these factors, the treating physician ordered the manufacture of a prosthesis perfectly adapted to the patient’s face. However, cancer being a fast-progression disease and free operating-room time being scarce, it was essential to find a fast and effective manufacturing method. This was when Creaform’s expertise in 3-D scanning was called upon.

A transitory solution

Creaform, a global provider of digitizing technologies, developed the Handyscan 3D line-up of laser scanners. These scanners allow the scanning of objects to generate digital files that can be modified and edited in various post-treatment software. Thanks to this state-of-the-art technology, it would be possible to create a well-adjusted, comfortable, and natural-looking prosthesis.

Once the project stakeholders agreed on an action plan, the first step was to create a silicon moulding of the patient’s nose before the surgical ablation. The left half still being healthy, it would be used as a model to reproduce an identical and symmetrical half of the right side. This is a painless and nontraumatic procedure for the patient and requires little time, aside from the silicone’s drying time.

Next, an accurate digital imprint of the silicone mould had to be done. The data from the silicone imprint were collected with Creaform's hand-held auto-positioning laser scanner, REVscan, in just under 10 minutes.

Half an hour to re-create half a nose

Once the 3-D data from the mould were acquired and the STL file was generated, Creaform’s CAD department team used a post-treatment software, Geomagic in this case, to modify the digital model of the mould following the guidelines provided.

First, the right part of the nose (the part that was to be surgically removed) was deleted from the file and was replaced by the symmetrical image of the left half. The irrelevant surfaces (the forehead, the outline of the eye, and the cheek) were also deleted during that step. Finally, the 3-D model was added a thickness and prepared for rapid prototyping—a specialized machine “carves” an object in a given material from the information it acquires from a digital file. Using a pain-free method such as scanning, the patient was provided with a paintable prosthesis that was affixed to her face and that would prevent additional damage while waiting for the rhinoplasty.

All in all, the process took roughly 30 minutes of work: Such efficiency speaks for itself.

A versatile prosthesis

Such a prosthesis offers numerous benefits, including the possibility of using it as a model during the rhinoplasty, or during the moulding process of support elements for the flesh and the respiratory tract during the intervention, if the latter are still functional.

Technology for the well-being of people

Thanks to the precision and speed offered by the hand-held laser scanner and to the expertise of the Creaform engineers, it was possible to create a prosthesis for an oncology patient in a short time, without causing any delay in the procedure schedule. This gave the patient the best chances for a quick and complete recovery. Moreover, the technology has the virtue of contributing to the self-esteem and well-being of sick people and enabling them to feel confident about their futures.


About The Author

Proto3000 Inc.’s picture

Proto3000 Inc.

As a leading 3-D engineering solutions firm, Proto3000 Inc. serves its North American clients by providing rapid prototyping, 3-D printing,3-D laser scanning, and engineering design solutions while maintaining professional customer service as priority number one. The vision of Proto3000 Inc. is to continue leading the design and prototyping industry while providing 3-D engineering solutions to new markets utilizing innovative design, technology, and people. Proto3000 is dedicated to being innovative and augmentative, continuously thinking how it can enhance and increase value by being diverse. Proto3000 can take any idea and provide expert services as well as extensive research and development to create worldwide selling products.