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Research Papers

Assessment of 11 Available Materials With Custom Three-Dimensional-Printing Patterns for the Simulation of Muscle, Fat, and Lung Hounsfield Units in Patient-Specific Phantoms

[+] Author and Article Information
Nikiforos Okkalidis

Centre for Biomedical Cybernetics,
University of Malta,
Msida MSD2080, Malta
e-mail: nikiforos_ok@hotmail.com

Chrysoula Chatzigeorgiou

Mechanical Engineering Department,
Aristotle University of Thessaloniki,
Thessaloniki 54124, Greece
e-mail: chrysa.chatzig@gmail.com

Demetrios Okkalides

Medical Physics Department,
Faculty of Health Sciences,
University of Malta,
Msida MSD2080, Malta
e-mail: demetrios.okkalides@um.edu.mt

1Corresponding author.

Manuscript received September 18, 2017; final manuscript received October 15, 2017; published online November 7, 2017. Assoc. Editor: Lijie Grace Zhang.

ASME J of Medical Diagnostics 1(1), 011003 (Nov 07, 2017) (7 pages) Paper No: JESMDT-17-2040; doi: 10.1115/1.4038228 History: Received September 18, 2017; Revised October 15, 2017

A couple of fused deposition modeling (FDM) three-dimensional (3D) printers using variable infill density patterns were employed to simulate human muscle, fat, and lung tissue as it is represented by Hounsfield units (HUs) in computer tomography (CT) scans. Eleven different commercial plastic filaments were assessed by measuring their mean HU on CT images of small cubes printed with different patterns. The HU values were proportional to the mean effective density of the cubes. Polylactic acid (PLA) filaments were chosen. They had good printing characteristics and acceptable HU. Such filaments obtained from two different vendors were then tested by printing two sets of cubes comprising 10 and 6 cubes with 100% to 20% and 100% to 50% infill densities, respectively. They were printed with different printing patterns named “Regular” and “Bricks,” respectively. It was found that the HU values measured on the CT images of the 3D-printed cubes were proportional to the infill density with slight differences between vendors and printers. The Regular pattern with infill densities of about 30%, 90%, and 100% were found to produce HUs equivalent to lung, fat, and muscle. This was confirmed with histograms of the respective region of interest (ROI). The assessment of popular 3D-printing materials resulted in the choice of PLA, which together with the proposed technique was found suitable for the adequate simulation of the muscle, fat, and lung HU in printed patient-specific phantoms.

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Figures

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Fig. 1

Preview images simulate 3D printing with 100% infill density: (a) regular, (b) Bricks A, (c) Bricks W, and (d) Bricks WT. CT scanned images appear below.

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Fig. 2

Anonymized chest images of a real patient CT scan were acquired (a). The images were used to construct a reduced scale 3D model phantom made by Printer N and PLA2. This printed phantom was also CT scanned and slices at the same Z positions appear in (b) for comparison. Both sets are presented in a lung window.

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Fig. 3

Variation of HUs measured with a ROI on CT images against infill density. The 30 × 30 × 30 mm cubes were printed with Printer N and printing pattern Regular. The material was PLA1.

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Fig. 4

Variation of HUs measured in a ROI on the CT images of 20 × 20 × 20 mm cubes with Bricks WT design with varying infill density, CT slice thickness of 5 mm and PLA2

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Fig. 5

Calculated mean effective density (ρe) of the cubes against the respective infill density that was used to print each of them

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Fig. 6

Histograms of the CT images of cubes of PLA1 3D printed with the regular pattern and infill densities 30, 90, and 100%. These are compared to the histograms of CT images of actual patient organ tissues.

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Fig. 7

Variation of HUs with the mean effective density (ρe) of various printing materials. Data from Table 1.

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