Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Thesis Format

Integrated Article


Master of Science




Dr Parham Rasoulinejad


Rapid prototyping refers to the manufacturing process in which a three-dimensional (3D) digital model can be transformed into a physical model by layering material in the shape of successive cross sections atop of previously layers. Rapid prototyping has been increasing in popularity in the field of medicine and surgery due to the ability to personalize various aspects of patient care. The thesis will explore the use of rapid prototyping in lumbar spine surgery, aim to quantify the accuracy of medical imaging when relating to imaged structures and their corresponding models produced by rapid prototyping, and determine if complex patient-specific guides are accurate and safe.

Summary for Lay Audience

. Three-dimensional printing (3D-printing) is a new tool that is being used in spine surgery. Patients with spinal conditions undergo medical imaging investigations, especially if they require surgery. Two types of imaging techniques routinely used are: 1) Computed tomography (CT) and 2) magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Each technique has its own advantages and disadvantages. CT provides excellent bone detail; however, soft tissue (muscle, nerve, spinal cord) detail is limited and CT scans require moderate doses of radiation to acquire. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), on the other hand, provides excellent soft tissue details and requires no radiation to acquire, but the detail of bony structures is limited. 3D-printed models of the spine, with guides to direct screws in place, are increasingly being created to help with planning surgeries. Previous studies have used CT to acquire 3D data for 3D-printing of the spinal structures. However, this has never been done using MRI because it has been too difficult to assess the bones. It would be advantageous to use MRI data because the majority of patients have an MRI before spine surgery, and patients would be exposed to less radiation when compared to CT. MRI cannot be performed on some patients with anxiety, and is not possible when some metallic implants are present.

The rationale for this study is to investigate if the special MRI scans can acquire enough bone detail to then be used to build bone models with guidance tools to assist surgeons during operations. This would mean that CT scans for spine surgery, and the radiation that comes with them, may no longer be needed.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.