A team of doctors and scientists used a 3-D printed kidney to help save a patient’s organ during a complicated tumor-removal operation. The 3-D model proved vital for doctors at the Intermountain Medical Center in Salt Lake City as it allowed them to carefully plan and practice the procedure, Science Daily reported.

Patient Linda Green’s tumor was near an artery, veins and the ureter, meaning that doctors would have to take extra precautions during extraction. Dr. Jay Bishoff, director of Intermountain Medical Center Urological Institute and Dr. Talmadge Shill, a radiologist, used CT scans to produce a 3-D model of Green’s kidney.

The organ was presented in two halves so Bishoff could determine how the tumor was attached to the kidney, Science Daily reported. During analysis, Bishoff detected a small nub that wasn’t detected on previous scans.

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"Without the 3-D model, the visual images of the CT scans would not have allowed us to identify this rub prior to surgery," Bishoff told Science Daily. "The 3-D printing technology allowed us to prepare a more complete plan for the patient’s surgery, show the patient the complexities of the procedure and what would be done during the surgery to remove the tumor and save the kidney."


Bishoff told Science Daily that while 3-D printing is in its early stages, it will help improve patient care.