At first glance, they look like the heart or lung of a human being, but in reality these organs are exact replicas made by the company Lazarus 3D, an American startup that, with its three-dimensional printing technology, is revolutionizing the field of surgery.
Located at the Houston Medical Center, the world's largest, Lazarus 3D reproduces customized copies of three-dimensional (3D) human organs and tissues from the study that makes a CT scan or MRI of the patient in time frames that sometimes do not exceed 24 hours.
This method allows physicians to simulate a complex surgical procedure with the exact copy of the patient's organ and to prepare before operating it.
The company also creates generic prototypes of different parts of the body for the training of resident physicians.
The pieces, printed on various types of silicone, mimic the mechanical properties of human organs and the characteristics of the tissues with a high level of detail, including the structure of the tumors that a patient may have.
"We adapted the properties of each organ to be soft, elastic or rigid, with the consistency of a human tissue," said American scientist and entrepreneur Jacques Zaneveld, founder of Lazarus 3D, to Efe.
"We can have in a single model different types of material, such as liver, fat and ligaments, and that fulfill the same geometry that a human has," he added.
For Zaneveld, PhD in human and molecular genetics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, 3D printing technology was a hobby that led him to create figures that he later sold in the conventions of Anime and Science Fiction.
Eventually, he focused on his true goal, developing the technique to improve human health.
"The conventional models that were on the market were made of rigid material, so I saw the need to create soft prototypes that recreated the human characteristics that could be used to perfect the practice of surgery," he said.
The company seeks to minimize with its models the errors in surgeries that endanger the life of the patient. In the United States, medical errors are the third leading cause of death, with more than 250,000 deaths a year, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).
Zaneveld attributed much of the blame to the lack of "proper training," since "even the most skilled surgeon can make a mistake," something that resolves this revolutionary technology that allows "a realistic practice" with accurate materials at the correct points .
"Being able to create these models for a specific patient represents a new opportunity," says Larry Ciscon, president of Northworks 3D and a partner in the Houston company.
Lazarus 3D recently won an award from NASAiTech 2018, an initiative of NASA (National Agency of Aeronautics and Space), to find innovative ideas to solve the obstacles to the future exploration of the Moon and Mars.
The company demonstrated to NASA scientists and researchers that its technique of printing 3D human organ models can provide solutions to technological challenges in space missions.
Lazarus 3D predicts that its technology can be used in different scenarios in space, such as the design of light parts to repair equipment, the creation of an "artificial astronaut" to test the design of new spacesuits or the training of medical astronauts. they must perform operations.
"It's a very good opportunity to explore the applications of our technology outside the medical field," says American scientist Smriti Zaneveld, research director and co-founder of Lazarus 3D.
In addition to marketing these models with customers and hospitals in the United States, the company distributes them in Mexico, India, China and the United Kingdom, and intends to expand its market to other countries in Latin America and the rest of the world.
According to Daniel Olvera, a urologist specializing in endourology and robotic surgery at Hospital Zambrano Hellion in Monterrey (Mexico), the impression of Lazarus 3D allows you to be more successful in an intervention because "you can know the anatomical relationships and simulate a surgery before intervening patient" . EFE