E2733. Advanced Surface Labeling and Coloring of a Modular 3D Printed Model of the Cranial Nerves
  1. Newton Nagirimadugu; The George Washington University
  2. Muhammad Rehman; Advocate Aurora Health
  3. Lauren Arsenault; Mountain Area Health Education Center
  4. Saachin Chitalkar; The George Washington University
  5. Ramin Javan; The George Washington University
Three-dimensional (3D) printing has been increasingly used in healthcare systems for procedural training, presurgical planning, and didactic education. Advances in technology such as the ability to print in color and different materials and textures continue to expand the scope and applications of 3D printing in medicine. Cranial nerve anatomy has been documented as especially difficult for students and trainees to master due to both the complex anatomic course of the nerves and their branches along with the somewhat limited methods this can be taught. To that end, we attempted to create a modular color and labeled 3D printed model of cranial nerves including their peripheral branches to improve the ease of learning this complex anatomy.

Materials and Methods:
A highly accurate 3D model of the cranial nerves was initially developed using high-resolution CT and MRI coregistration. Stereolithography (STL) files were generated for each of the parts of the model, i.e., cranial nerves. Subsequently, free software called Blender was used to color and surface label the files. In Blender, a UV map of each cranial nerve was created, and the surface meshes of the nerves were selectively broken apart. Separate PNG files of the desired color for each part of the surface mesh were created. This method was used instead of the manual stencil tool in Blender to create highly legible labels on not only the proximal portions of the nerves but also their distal branches. A new UV map for each surface mesh was created and associated with a new locally stored PNG file. Afterward, a label was created in Microsoft PowerPoint, uploaded to the blender stencil tool, and painted on the model. After all the portions of the model were labeled, the separate surface meshes were recombined using the join function in Blender.

We successfully colored and labeled a previously developed STL model of the cranial nerves as they course through the skull base and the face.

This project highlights the importance of the emerging MultiJet Fusion technologies in creating highly customizable, sturdy, and versatile color 3D printed models, which can now also contain thin long structures. We also demonstrate the ability to use free open-source software such as Blender to create detailed and high-quality models by using fragmented surface meshes. The accessibility and versatility of 3D printing in medicine continue to expand. The coloring and labeling of these extremely nuanced models also open doors for potential VR and AR integration.