OBJECTIVE Hydrocephalus affects approximately 1 in 500 people in the US, yet ventricular shunting, the gold standard of treatment, has a nearly 85% failure rate. Endoscopic third ventriculostomy (ETV) is an alternative surgical approach for a specific subset of hydrocephalic patients, but can be limited by the inability of neurosurgical residents to practice prior to patient contact. The goal of this study was to create an affordable ETV model and endoscope for resident training. METHODS Open-source software was used to isolate the skull and brain from the CT and MR images of a 2-year-old boy with hydrocephalus. A 3D printer created the skull and a 3D mold of the brain. A mixture of silicone and silicone tactile mutator was used to cast the brain mold prior to subsequent compression and shearing modulus testing. A mimetic endoscope was then created from basic supplies and a 3D printed frame. A small cohort of neurosurgical residents and attending physicians evaluated the ETV simulator with mimetic endoscope. RESULTS The authors successfully created a mimetic endoscope and ETV simulator. After compression and shearing modulus testing, a silicone/Slacker ratio between 10:6 and 10:7 was found to be similar to that of human brain parenchyma. Eighty-seven percent of participants strongly agreed that the simulator was useful for resident training, and 93% strongly agreed that the simulator helped them understand how to orient themselves with the endoscope. CONCLUSIONS The authors created an affordable (US$123, excluding 3D printer), easy-to-use ETV simulator with endoscope. Previous models have required expensive software and costly operative endoscopes that may not be available to most residents. Instead, this attempt takes advantage of open-source software for the manipulation and fabrication of a patient-specific mold. This model can assist with resident development, allowing them to safely practice use of the endoscope in ETV.
Keywords: 3D printing; ABS = acrylonitrile butadiene styrene; ETV = endoscopic third ventriculostomy; ETV simulator; MPRAGE = magnetization-prepared rapid acquisition gradient echo; NIFTI = Neuroimaging Informatics Technology Initiative; PLA = polylactic acid; STL = stereolithography; hydrocephalus; mimetic endoscope; neurosurgical resident training; silicone; surgical technique.