Surgeon uses 3D models to show real kidney tumors to patients

As a doctor who specializes in urology and robotic surgery, Dr. Christopher Reilly was quick to begin using new technology to treat his patients’ kidney issues. 

Reilly is one of the first surgeons in North Central, Pennsylvania, to use 3D models of his patients’ kidneys. The models are built from scans of the existing kidney and printed in UPMC’s 3D modeling lab in Pittsburg. 

“What these are, is using someone’s actual scan, putting that through a 3D printer and then printing out a model of what their actual organ looks like,” Reilly said. 

Through the use of the 3D model, Reilly is able to show his patients how large or invasive the tumor is and if surgery is necessary. 

In addition, Reilly also is able to use the kidney model to plan his surgeries and determine if the kidney can be saved or not. 

Any surgeon who’s doing things like this can look at a CAT scan and internally understand what things are going to look like, but it’s never 100% accurate,” Reilly said. “The 3D map really does potentially change your understanding … and gives you a tangible thing.” 

The future of 3D printing holds many opportunities for Reilly, who founded the robotics department at the North Central, Pa., UPMC facility in 2013. 

With the right material, an entire human body can be printed, opening up the opportunity to use the models for surgery prep, medical training and more.

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  • On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.

On the PULSE

On the PULSE is an online media outlet in Northcentral, Pennsylvania. We specialize in in-depth journalism, human interest content and video features. Our mission is to build engagement in community through local news.