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First of its kind in Southern California

The Helen and Will Webster Foundation 3D Innovations Lab at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego was established in 2018, building on the innovative work of the Heart Institute, Orthopedics & Scoliosis Center and Radiology program.

The 3D Innovations Lab creates 3D models from medical images such as CT and MRI images. The 3D models can either be viewed on a computer or on advanced equipment such as virtual reality goggles. The model can also be sent to a 3D printer where a physical representation can be made.

What is 3D printing? How is it used?

3D printing is the process of making a fully 3D, physical object from a digital file. Types of 3D printers vary, but the basic process across technologies is remarkably simple. A printer deposits thin layers of material until a 3D object is constructed.

Doctors can use 3D prints to help inform and guide their decision making. Instead of depending on traditional two-dimensional images, they can hold printed replicas in their hands and ultimately get much better fundamental understanding of the patient’s needs. In the case of more complicated surgeries, 3D prints can even help doctors during the planning stage and identify key areas to focus on during the procedure.

What is the process like?

Traditionally, other departments at Rady Children’s Hospital will make requests for prints and digital reconstructions to the 3D Innovations Lab. Once we receive the necessary CT, MRI or 3D ultrasound scans of the area of focus, the reconstruction process begins, resulting in a complete digital model ready for printing. The model then goes through the printing process and some clean-up before getting handed off to the physician.

How is the lab supported? How can I help?

Very few hospitals leverage 3D technologies in the manner of Rady Children’s. We currently rely on the community and research grants to support our program. To support ongoing activities and research, please donate here. We are excited to use this incredible technology to provide the best possible care to our patients and your contribution will help make that possible.