A brain perfusion phantom is a 3D printed plastic brain that allows surgeons to practice mechanical thrombectomies. A mechanical thrombectomy is a procedure where surgeons thread a wire from the chest, through the neck, and into the head to pull clots out of the brain of a stroke victim. As you can imagine, there are a lot of risks associated with this procedure, like the wire loosening another clot from the wall of the artery and it lodges in the heart, lung, or brain.
Computer simulations of this procedure exist but are extremely expensive to purchase for med students to use. And as you can imagine, neurosurgeons need extensive training on this procedure before working on a human being.
That is why a UConn Health radiologist and a medical physicist made a life-size model of the arteries that wire must pass through, using brain scans and a 3D printer. Using a brain scan of a patient, they designed a 3D model of the blood vessels at a mere cost of $14. Even though this model doesn’t feel like a human body, it gives medical students the ability to inexpensively practice the technique on how to move the catheter through the body.
This technology could potentially be used to visualize brain tumors so that surgeons can see exactly what they are up against before surgery.