Stories about: 3D printing

All roads lead to Boston for South Carolina parents-to-be

Vein of GalenWhen you’re a South Carolina couple expecting your first baby, the prospect of a two-day, 1,000-mile road trip to deliver your bundle of joy seems far-fetched.

“Boston is not next door,” concedes Tradd Martin. “But after talking about the pros and cons, it was an easy decision.”

Tradd and his wife Jean decided to deliver their son Alex at Brigham and Women’s Hospital after doctors detected a Vein of Galen malformation, a rare blood vessel abnormality in the brain, during a third-trimester ultrasound.

“I was 32 weeks pregnant, and everything was going great. We even debated not doing the ultrasound, but a little something was telling us, ‘Go ahead,’” recalls Jean.

The ultrasound technician told the Martins she was concerned about an area in Alex’s brain, and the obstetrician diagnosed the couple’s unborn son with a Vein of Galen malformation.

“Our whole world turned upside down,” says Jean. She started researching the condition online to try to find some answers. “There was hardly anything on the Internet, except for Boston Children’s Hospital.”

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3D printing guides a tricky brain surgery

3D printingTwo and a half years ago, 15-year-old Adam Stedman had a seizure out of the blue.

“I heard a noise and went in and saw him in a full-blown tonic-clonic seizure,” says his mother, Amy.  Paramedics brought him to the hospital. Any further seizures could mean trouble, they told the Stedmans. “They said, basically, ‘you’re allowed one seizure in your life,’” Amy recalls.

A few months later, on an August evening around 10 p.m., Adam spoke with his girlfriend on the phone. She later told Amy, “Go check on him—he sounds kind of out of it.” That turned out to be a second seizure.

The third seizure, the worst yet, happened on Nov. 11. Adam had the day off from school, and his girlfriend was visiting. The family was eating dinner when the seizure started. It lasted nearly five minutes, and Adam was turning blue. Another seizure followed within weeks. The local hospital in Connecticut did an MRI, and the Stedmans received a call: “Can you come in before the office opens?”

Adam had an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, a tangle of abnormally connected arteries and veins. Through a recommendation, the Stedmans met five days later with Dr. Edward Smith, a neurosurgeon in Boston Children’s Hospital’s Cerebrovascular Surgery and Interventions Center.

Because the AVM was in the visual processing area of his brain, Adam faced a risk of serious vision loss if the AVM wasn’t removed soon. It could bleed or burst at any time.

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Violet’s journey: 3D models help doctors plan her surgery


Performing an incredibly complex surgery like Violet’s craniofacial reconstruction takes teamwork and highly specialized tools. Our doctors used 3D printing to create models of Violet’s skull and practice her surgery before ever meeting her. Join us and watch Violet’s journey unfold.

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