Computer-aided design (CAD) technologies are often used by architects to map out blueprints and create designs for buildings and bridges, and the same technologies used in the design field are now being used in the medical field. Researchers recently discovered a way to use CAD tools and technologies when creating moulds of breasts during the breast tissue reconstruction process. A study was published in IOP Publishing’s Biofabrication journal, and showed how researchers were able to use computer-aided design techniques to create a very accurate mould of a breast for use by a breast reconstruction surgeon.
According to the results of the findings, CAD could potentially be used in the field of medicine-tissue engineering and patients’ own cells could be used into the physical scaffold produced from these designs so that there would not be a need for tissue transfer.
Professor Dietmar Hutmacher, co-author of this study states, "We would take a laser scan of the healthy breast and use the CAD modeling process to design a patient-specific scaffold in silicon. We would then produce a scaffold of very high porosity and load it with the patient's own cells in combination with a hydrogel. The construct would then be implanted."
In a traditional breast reconstruction procedure, the surgeon must use the patient’s own tissues from other parts of the body to recreate the breast. This typically results in extensive blood loss and significant scarring. Using CAD software and technologies would allow the surgeon to create a 3D mould of the patient’s breast and then using this model as an operative aid during the surgery.
This process and method is still in the early development stages but offers some promise for breast reconstruction surgery and related procedures that typically involve tissue transfer in the future.
Learn more about breast reconstruction options by setting up a consultation with a breast reconstruction surgeon in your area.