Practise makes perfect: 3D-printed brains could revolutionise neurosurgery

Dr Adam Wells undertaking history-making 'surgery', using the new technology.

Dr Adam Wells undertaking history-making 'surgery' using the new technology. Photo credit: Tricia Watkinson 

An Adelaide-based company, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Adelaide, is hoping to revolutionise neurosurgery techniques, following their ‘world-first operation’ in November. 

The operation featured a 3D-printed brain inside a head modelled on the former US President Barack Obama, showcasing the newly created technologym which is set to change the way surgeons operate and students learn. 

Ultimately, patients with brain tumours and other complex neurological conditions will be able to have their own brain scanned and 3D-printed for surgeons to rehearse on in preparation for surgery.

FuseTec CEO Mr Mark Roe knew the capability of 3D-printing technology, and spent over a year searching for a problem that could potentially be solved by the rapidly-evolving technology. 

“I was an entrepreneur looking for a problem to solve,” he said. “I spoke to surgeons and academics and looked at the problems they were having. What kept coming up was they needed patient-specific models made so they could practice before they did the operation.”

After completing the world-first neurosurgery simulation, University of Adelaide’s Dr Adam Wells’ verdict was that there was a “high degree of realism” in the brains, and that it would improve students’ training. 

Unlike traditional student training methods, 3D-printed organs do not contain potentially harmful bacteria or require wet labs, meaning they can be studied in a classroom environment.

The aim is to now take the research developments to an international audience and revolutionise the way neurosurgery outcomes are achieved across the global. 


Dr Adam Wells

Featured researcher

Dr Adam Wells
Senior Clinical Lecturer
Adelaide Medical School
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Tagged in Health and biotech, brain, surgery, technology