3-D Model Tests Surgery Outcome Before Doctors Cut

Like a videogame, surgeons do multiple test runs on delicate surgery for chronic sinusitis

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Kai Zhao, PhD, is an engineer and medical researcher at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who`s using aerodynamic software that doctors could use in order to map highly complex sinus surgeries before they ever pick up a scalpel.

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) –  By the time you read this story, two more people will undergo surgery for chronic sinus infections. It’s a condition that affects nearly 12 million people and while surgery for chronic sinusitis is fairly common, it can also be extremely complex.

“Because the sinuses are surrounded by the brain and the eyes, you have be be very precise, within millimeters,” said Dr. Alex Farag, an otolaryngologist who specializes in rhinology and skull base surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Though complications from sinus surgery are rare, they can be severe. Patients can lose their senses of smell and taste. Some may suffer from empty nose syndrome, a mysterious condition that leaves patients struggling to breathe, even though scans show that nasal passages are wide open, or “empty.”

To reduce the risk of complications, researchers at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center are using 3-D technology to design customized models that can map out patient surgeries. “Before surgery we can remove certain areas of tissue on a computer model, then back-compute it to see how it impacts nasal airflow,” said Kai Zhao, PhD, who’s using computational fluid dynamics to develop novel software. “Like playing a videogame, we can try multiple variations until we get the airflow we want.” It could lead to much more precise procedures and more prepared surgeons.

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Kai Zhao, PhD, is an engineer and medical researcher at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center who`s developing 3-D fluid dynamics software for doctors. The surgeons can test run delicate sinus surgeries and see results before they go into the operating room.

Researchers at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center are developing 3-D models for sinus surgery simulation. Though surgery for chronic sinusitis is fairly common, it can be extremely complex. This technology could help doctors improve precision and decrease complications through rehearsing procedures and seeing their results before actual surgery begins.

Alex Farag, MD, an otolaryngologist who specializes in rhinology and skull base surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says patients who have four or more sinus infections a year and don`t respond well to medications are candidates for sinus surgery.

After years of cooking dinner for his family, Brian Kirk of Galloway, Ohio is finally able to enjoy the savory smells in his kitchen. Kirk underwent surgery to correct his chronic sinus problems that affected his breathing, sense of smell and sleep.

Alex Farag, MD, an otolaryngologist who specializes in rhinology and skull base surgery at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, looks at the CT scan from a patient who recently had surgery for chronic sinus infections.