Our goal was to develop and prove the accuracy of a system that would allow us to re-create live patient arterial pathology. Anatomically accurate replicas of blood vessels could allow physicians to teach and practice dangerous interventional techniques and might also be used to gather basic physiologic information. The preparation of replicas has, until now, depended on acquisition of fresh cadaver material. Using rapid prototyping, it should be able to replicate vascular pathology in a live patient. We obtained CT angiographic scan data from two patients with known arterial abnormalities. We took such data and, using proprietary software, created a 3D replica using a commercially available rapid prototyping machine. From the prototypes, using a lost wax technique, we created vessel replicas, placed those replicas in the CT scanner, then compared those images with the original scans. Comparison of the images made directly from the patient and from the replica showed that with each step, the relationships were maintained, remaining within 3% of the original, but some smoothing occurred in the final computer manipulation. From routinely obtainable CT angiographic data, it is possible to create accurate replicas of human vascular pathology with the aid of commercially available stereolithography equipment. Visual analysis of the images appeared to be as important as the measurements. With 64 and 128 slice detector scanners becoming available, acquisition times fall enough that we should be able to model rapidly moving structures such as the aortic root.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.