Computer Designs Breast Tissue
Reported September 12, 2011
(Ivanhoe Newswire) - Engineers, make way for breast design! A technology usually
reserved for designing buildings, bridges and aircraft has now been used to aid
breast tissue reconstruction in cancer patients.
Researchers used computer-aided design, CAD, to create an extremely accurate
mould of a breast that was used as visual aid to surgeons in tissue
With one of the most-promising areas of medicine, tissue engineering, CAD was
used to design and produce patient-specific physical framework in which
patients’ own cells could be harnessed and grown onto the highly specific
framework and then transferred to the affected area. This avoids the need to
transfer tissue from other parts of the body which can cause large scars, blood
loss and require five to ten hours of anesthesia.
Study co-author, Professor Dietmar Hutmacher, was quoted saying, "We would take
a laser scan of the healthy breast and use the CAD modeling process to design a
patient-specific scaffold in silico. 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."
CAD has the ability to work full scale, examine the design from all angles and
maintain absolute accuracy.
Three female patients, who suffered from breast cancer, had a 3D mould of their
breast produced by 3D laser scanned images that were fed into a piece of
CAD-software representing the patient’s breast and surrounding thorax region.
The 3D mould was then used on each of the patients as an operative aid for
surgeons who performed autologous tissue reconstructions, the transferring of
tissue from another part of the patient’s body.
After each of the operations, the surgeons observed a more perfect shape with a
higher degree of symmetry between the breasts while, more importantly, the
patients reported a higher satisfaction of the surgery outcomes than the control
group, again with respect to shape and symmetry of their breasts.
The long-term aim of the study, however, was on the development of a material
that could be used in tissue engineering and it showed that CAD could be an
effective way of achieving this.
A function was created using the CAD software that enabled the creation of a
mould for any scanned tissue with the ability to independently tailor the
porosity and pore size – a property that is essential to the seeding and
diffusing of cells throughout the structure and something that limits modern
“There must be coordination between all key aspects of the tissue engineering
process, including the selection of cell source, scaffold material, cellular
environment, and means of device delivery in order for the engineering of any
tissue to be successful,” Professor Hutmacher was quoted as saying regarding the
several components in tissue reconstruction that requires investigation.
An Institute of Physics spokesperson was quoted as saying, "This advance offers
hope to women who have undergone mastectomies. It's enlightening to see how a
technique, first designed for the construction of buildings, bridges and
aircraft, is now being used in medicine."
SOURCE: Biofabrication, published online September 8, 2011