In the summer of 2013, Pamela Shavaun Scott started having “24/7 severe headaches” — so severe that she couldn’t sleep. It wasn’t before December that she heard for sure that it was a brain tumor. Through two MRIs several month apart doctors determined that Scott’s tumor was growing and several neurosurgeons told her that, because of the mass’ location (behind her left eye), the only option was “sawing your skull open” and lifting the brain to remove the tumor, which, of course, comes with tons of risks, including possible cognitive damage and blindness. Scott worried she’d never be the same.
Scott’s husband, Michael Balzer, who is a 3D imaging expert behind the website AllThings3D, used Photoshop and layered the 2D images to compare what radiologists were telling his wife to his own research. He found the tumor hadn’t grown at all. It was clear they couldn’t simply rely on what the doctors were saying.
Using a tool called InVesalius — open-source software from Brazil that uses DICOM, MRI and CT files to visualize medical images — as well as another imaging software 3D Slicer, Balzer was able to create renderings of his wife’s tumor. The couple sent them out to hospitals across the country around February, Balzer said.
Through the 3D renderings, doctors decided to take a less invasive approach to remove the tumor. Instead of sawing into her skull and lifting the brain, the doctors planned to go through her eyelid.
The surgery was successful as the surgeons were able to remove 95% of the tumor (about 5% was wrapped around the optical nerve — too dangerous to remove). There’s a very slim chance that it will grow back, the couple said. After the surgery, Scott said it took her fewer than three weeks to recover enough to return to work.
Anterior skull section with skull based tumor
by slo 3D creators
Why It’s Hot
This is great example of the use of emerging technology and the way it can improve someone’s life. According to Balzer, this was the first time surgeons were able to examine physical 3D renderings prior to a medical procedure. This case study proves that 3D technology can provide value to the healthcare industry.