MRI-driven design of customised 3D printed gynaecological brachytherapy applicators with curved needle channels

Rianne Laan, Remi A. Nout, Jenny Dankelman, Nick van de Berg

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Brachytherapy involves placement of radioactive sources inside or near the tumour. For gynaecological cancer, recent developments, including 3D imaging and image-guided adaptive brachytherapy, have improved treatment quality and outcomes. However, for large or complex tumours, target coverage and local control with commercially available applicators remain suboptimal. Moreover, side effects are frequent and impact on quality of life. This signifies that brachytherapy treatment conformity can improve. Therefore, the aim of this study is to develop 3D printed personalised brachytherapy applicators with a custom vaginal topography and guided needle source channels, based on the patients’ anatomy. -

Customised applicators were derived from MRI data of two gynaecological cancer patients. Needle channels were planned by the Radiation Oncologist during image segmentation. Applicators contained multi-curved channels for 6F needles (ProGuide, Elekta) and were manufactured using a digital light processing-based 3D printer. Needle channel radius constraints were measured by analysing needle insertion forces in a 3D printed template, and imposed on the designs. -

Two customised needle applicators are presented. Interstitial needle channels have tapered ends to increase needle protrusion angle accuracy. Additional structures were included to serve as anchor points in MR images for applicator and needle modelling and reconstruction during treatment planning. An insertion force analysis yielded a radius constraint of 35 mm to minimise the risk on needle jamming or buckling. For radii larger than 50 mm, no differences in insertion forces were found. -

A novel method to design and produce vaginal topography-based 3D prints for personalised brachytherapy applicators, derived from patient MRI data, is presented. The applicators include curved needle channels that can be used for intracavitary and guided interstitial needle placement. Further spatial optimisation of brachytherapy source channels to the patient anatomy is expected to increase brachytherapy conformity and outcome.
Original languageEnglish
Article number8
Number of pages8
Journal3D Printing in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Brachytherapy
  • Gynaecology
  • Personalised healthcare
  • Medical devices
  • Needle steering
  • Additive manufacturing


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