GOOD

This Woman Can See Because Her Husband 3D-Printed Her Tumor

To help doctors remove his wife’s tumor, Michael Belzer printed them 3D model to practice on.

Pamela Shavaun Scott and her skull [via Make]

In William Gibson’s 2014 novel The Peripheral, the acclaimed author envisioned a not-too-distant future in which 3D printing is as ubiquitous for his characters as shopping at a convenience store is for us – where items as complicated and diverse as smartphones and designer drugs can be printed (“fabbed,” for “fabricated”) with ease. But that is science fiction, and we still live in a world of science fact, where, for most of us, 3D printing is not part of our everyday lives (...yet). Still, the technology has grown from an upscale – if fairly limited – hobby, to a serious tool for designers, engineers, and, in the case of one printing enthusiast, the means by which he helped save his wife’s eyesight.


After a series of MRIs indicated that a small tumor behind the left eye of Pamela Shavaun Scott had grown at an alarming rate, she and her husband Michael Balzer began bracing themselves for the possibility that Scott would require an invasive craniotomy in order to remove the growth – a surgery that, because of the tumor’s placement, could end up resulting in damaging side effects. It was then that Balzer, a graphics designer and 3D imaging specialist, decided to take a proactive step towards managing his wife’s health care. After obtained his Scott’s MRI data files, called DICOMs, Balzer used his design imaging skills to layer the scans, and came to the conclusion that his wife’s tumor hadn’t grown, it had simply been mismeasured. At this point, Balzer told Make:

“I thought, ‘why don’t we take it to the next level?’” Balzer says. “Let’s see what kind of tools are available so that I can take the DICOMs, which are 2D slices, and convert them into a 3D model.”

While the immediate crisis was over, Scott’s tumor still needed treatment. As Make explains, Balzer sent the 3D images to doctors around the country, hoping to find a less invasive surgical procedure for his wife.

Anterior skull section with skull based tumor by slo 3D creators on Sketchfab

Fortunately, Scott and Balzer found a doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical center willing to perform a less-invasive surgery – one that involved micro-drilling above the left eyelid, rather than opening the skull entirely. To help the doctor prep for the operation, Balzer printed a scale model of his wife’s skull – complete with tumorous growth - and sent it to UPMC. Using that model, the UPMC surgical team was able to plot their procedure in accurate, three dimensional space.

Thanks in no small part to Balzer’s innovative print job, Scott’s tumor, which had begun to emmesh itself into her optic nerves, was successfully removed in the Spring of 2014. Had she waited any longer, it’s likely that Scott would have lost much of her eyesight as a result. Here’s what her skull looks like now:

Anterior Skull Section with tumor removed. by slo 3D creators on Sketchfab

If doctors planning a patient’s surgeries with the help of custom 3D printed models might sound like something out of science fiction, it’s a practice that Dr. Michael Patton, CEO of Austin, TX’s Medical Innovation Lab, tells Make, ”is going to become the new normal.” If you’re interested, instructions for 3D printing your own medical images are already available.

Articles
via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less
Health

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
Business
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less
Politics