Pregnant women are being given the chance to hold life-size models of their unborn babies, thanks to an invention that converts data from ultrasound and MRI scans.
Jorge Lopes, a Brazilian designer, uses 3-D printing technology to create the plaster models, which go on show tomorrow at an exhibition at the Royal College of Art in London.
But the invention has already attracted the attention of medical experts. “For doctors this is a fantastic development and it is absolutely unique,” said Stuart Campbell, head of obstetrics and gynaecology at King’s College London and a pioneer of the use of ultrasound diagnosis in the 1980s.
The technology is being trialled at a clinic in Rio de Janeiro. “It’s amazing to see the faces of the mothers. They can see the full scale of their baby, really understand the size of it,” said Dr Lopes.
A blind woman registered at the clinic has also volunteered to try out the technology at her next scan.
Professor Campbell is keen to use the technology as an educational tool for expectant parents and to help mothers who have difficulty bonding with their babies. It could also allow parents better to understand physical abnormalities that are diagnosed during pregnancy.
Dr Lopes, 42, first came across the 3-D printing method, known as rapid prototyping, when he was working on the reconstruction of archaeological finds such as dinosaurs and Egyptian mummies for museums. He is working at the RCA, on secondment from the Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology.
Dr Lopes is now focusing on developing simple software that doctors would be able to use independently and on the spot.Source