3D Modeling of Thoracoabdominal Tumors

Evaluating the Impact of 3D Modeling Thoracoabdominal Tumors on Surgical Care


UBC Faculty of Medicine

BC Children’s Hospital 

The Digital Lab

Type of work

3D Printing

Evaluating 3D Modeling in Surgical Care

The 3D Technologies Program at BC Children’s Hospital is a collaborative partnership between the hospital, the Digital Lab and the UBC Faculty of Medicine. This program allows clinicians to request virtual or physical anatomical models of their patients anatomy in preparation for cases. While it is known that these models can improve the patient experience, and act as valuable training tools, there is limited data on the costs and benefits of these models in perioperative care for pediatric thoracoabdominal tumors. This cost-benefits analysis aimed to better understand the impacts that 3D modeling has on perioperative care for pediatric patients with thoracoabdominal tumors to establish a value-based approach for further implementation of the 3D Technologies Program.

Research & Design

Standardized Cost-Benefits Analysis

The cost-benefits analysis of 3D modeling completed by the 3D Technologies Program at BC Children’s Hospital was conducted following the Consolidated Health Economic Evaluation Reporting Standards. This study analyzed nine thoracoabdominal tumor cases submitted by clinical teams to the 3D technologies program for either virtual or physical modeling between 2021 and 2022.

To assess the costs of the 3D modeling program, a time-driven, activity-based costing approach was used to estimate the direct and indirect costs associated with the program for each of the cases. The cost analysis only assessed costs that fall on those paying for the program and did not assess the costs of the broader healthcare system, or costs of the patient or their family. These costs evaluated included labor costs for the model development and deployment which were estimated using standard pay scales in addition to non-labour costs . 

Additionally, non-cost outcomes and benefits of the 3D models were analyzed by conducting post-case interviews with the clinical care team based on analysis of activities that occur over the treatment process for a thoracoabdominal tumor. These surveys aimed to help the research team better understand the relevance of the models, how they impacted the knowledge and confidence of the clinical care teams, and how they impacted surgical performance and outcomes.

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3D Technologies Show Promise in Patient Care

The findings of this study revealed that labor costs are the most significant cost incurred in the production of the 3D models. Numerous benefits were identified in this study including:

  • 88% of models met or exceeded care team expectations 
  • 69% of clinicians felt the models improved their anatomical understanding
  • Models improved clinical care team communication
  • Improved ability to communicate with patients and their families
  • Decreased procedural time
  • Increased the anticipation of procedural complications 

3D technologies for pediatric thoracoabdominal tumors is a promising approach to improving patient and caregiver education, perioperative planning and clinical care team knowledge and communication. This study's findings will guide further cost-benefit analysis for the 3D Technologies program and similar analyses conducted across other clinical contexts.

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