For the past three years, Francis LeBouthillier, has been developing 3D printed fetal models. Francis is a Sculpture and Installation Artist, and a professor at OCAD. He began by traditionally sculpting life-like fetuses and casting these in silicone, but has gradually transitioned to 3D printing.


Model Creation

MRI and CT scans were made from fetal specimens in the Division of Anatomy, Department of Surgery, at the University of Toronto. Through image segmentation, the MRI images were used to make digital models of the skin and organs, while the CT scans were used to make digital models of the bones. These digital models were then optimized for 3D printing. 3D printed moulds were also created to allow casting of the models in flexible materials.


Surgical Training Models

Francis initially created transparent anatomically accurate fetal models that enabled the visualization of the internal anatomical structures. These were made with 3D printed clear and opaque resins. He is also developing life-like silicone models that can be used for surgical simulation. These models will help surgeons visualize the unique physiology of the developing fetus and any associated pathologies. Surgeons can use anatomical models to practice surgical procedures. It is hoped that these fetal models can be used as simulators to teach high-risk in-utero surgical procedures for conditions such as spina bifida and twin-to-twin transfusion.

Francis’ work is funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario and CIVDDD (Centre for Innovation in Information Visualization and Data Driven Design).

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