To generate physical fetal models using images obtained by three-dimensional ultrasonography (3DUS), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and, in some cases, computed tomography (CT) to guide additive manufacturing technology.METHOD AND MATERIALS
Images from 32 pregnant women, including 5 sets of twins, were used. Scans were performed using high-resolution 3DUS. In cases of abnormalities, MRI and CT, were performed on the same day as 3DUS. The images obtained with 3DUS, MRI or CT were exported to a workstation in DICOM format. A single observer performed slice-by-slice manual segmentation using a digital high-definition screen. Software that converts medical images into numerical models was used to construct virtual 3D models, which were physically made using additive manufacturing technologies.RESULTS
Physical models based upon 3DUS, MRI and CT were successfully generated. They were similar to the postnatal appearance of the aborted fetus or newborns, especially in cases with pathology.CONCLUSION
The use of 3DUS, MRI and CT may improve our understanding of fetal anatomical characteristics, and these technologies can be used for educational purposes and as a method for parents to visualize their unborn baby. The images can be segmented and applied separately or combined to construct 3D virtual and physical models.CLINICAL RELEVANCE/APPLICATION
The techniques described in this study can be applied at different stages of pregnancy and constitute an innovative contribution to research on fetal abnormalities. We believe that physical models will help in the tactile and interactive study of complex abnormalities in multiple disciplines. They may also be useful for prospective parents because a 3D physical model with the characteristics of the fetus should allow a more direct emotional connection to their unborn child.