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Creaform Inc.


Winning the Battle Against Cancer

3-D technology makes possible a well-adjusted, comfortable, and natural-looking prosthesis

Published: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 - 09:37

A patient had to undergo the surgical ablation of most of her nose because of a skin cancer that had attacked her right nasal septum.

Following the surgery, a cicatrization period had to be observed before a rhinoplasty was even considered. If no action was taken meanwhile, the patient was at risk of tissue sagging or permanent deformation of the surrounding tissues—which might not be repairable by plastic surgery.

Beyond biological considerations, the psychological after-effects of such procedure on the patient’s self-esteem and social reintegration had to be measured and taken into account. This body part, more than any other, enables a human being to identify and define himself in relation to his fellow men; that is why there was no doubt that such a prosthesis was of the utmost importance. After careful consideration of all of these factors, the treating physician ordered the manufacturing of a prosthesis perfectly adapted to the patient’s face. However, cancer being a fast-progression disease and free operating-room time being scarce, it was essential to find a fast and effective manufacturing method. This is when Creaform’s expertise in 3-D scanning was called upon.

A transitory solution

Creaform, a world leader in digitizing technologies, has developed and sells the Handyscan 3D line of laser scanners. These revolutionary scanners allow the scanning of existing objects to generate digital files that can be modified and edited in various post-treatment software. Thanks to this technology, it would be possible to create a well-adjusted, comfortable, and natural-looking prosthesis.

Once the project stakeholders agreed on an action plan, the first step was to create a silicon molding of the patient’s nose before the surgical ablation. The left half still being healthy, it would be used as a model to reproduce an identical and symmetrical half of the right side. This is a painless and nontraumatic procedure for the patient and requires little time, aside from the silicone’s drying time. That is when Creaform’s specialists came into play: An accurate digital imprint of the silicone mould had to be done. The data from the silicone imprint were collected with the handheld auto-positioning laser scanner REVscan in just under 10 minutes.

Half an hour to re-create half a nose

Once the 3-D data from the mold were acquired and the STL file was generated, Creaform’s CAD Department team used a post-treatment software to modify the digital model of the mold following the guidelines provided.

First, the right part of the nose (the part that was to be surgically removed) was deleted from the file and was replaced by the symmetrical image of the left half. The irrelevant surfaces (forehead, outline of the eye, and cheek) were also deleted during that step. Finally, thickness was added to the 3-D model, and it was prepared for rapid prototyping. Using a pain-free method such as scanning, the patient was provided with a paintable prosthesis that was affixed to her face and that would prevent additional damage while waiting for the rhinoplasty.

Technology for the well-being of people

Thanks to the precision and speed offered by the handheld and self-positioning 3-D laser scanner and to the expertise of the Creaform people, it was possible to create a prosthesis for an oncology patient in a short timeline, without causing any delay in the procedure schedule and thus giving the patient the best chances for a quick and complete recovery. Moreover, this technology has the virtue of contributing to the self-esteem and well-being of sick people and enabling them to feel confident about their future.



About The Author

Creaform Inc.’s picture

Creaform Inc.

Creaform helps companies seamlessly create, simulate, verify, and collaborate in 3D, significantly enhancing their turnaround times and profitability. In addition to designing and selling its 3D laser scanners/systems, 3D digitizers, portable CMMs, dual camera sensors, and distributing other 3D measurement systems and software, Creaform offers design and engineering services, reverse engineering, finite element analysis, 3D and long-range scanning, inspection, training, and staff outsourcing.