3D printing, VR help restore toddlerhood to neuro patient

After completing numerous dry runs on a 3D printed skull and in a virtual reality suite, Stanford neurosurgeons have performed the first-ever minimally invasive tumor resection in the brain of a small child.

The endoscopic procedure entailed entering the skull base through the nasal passage. Its success was newsworthy enough to catch the eye of producers at NBC Nightly News, on which reporter Ayman Mohyeldin covered the development Nov. 14.

“Most people thought it was not possible” in such a young patient, says Juan Fernandez-Miranda, MD, in the segment. “If you go 1 millimeter beyond and you’re not careful, you can injure the carotid artery, get a major bleed” or bring on other harms.

It took the team 16 hours to complete the actual operation and all harms were indeed avoided.

View the segment, which “stars” the ebullient Ari Ellman, who is now 3 years old and back to his old self: