Three-dimensional printing of navigational template in localization of pulmonary nodule: A pilot study

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Background:Small pulmonary nodules are a common problem, especially with the wide implementation of lung cancer–screening program. This poses a great challenge to thoracic surgeons because of the difficulty of nodule localization. We recently built an efficient, customized navigational template using 3-dimensional (3D) printing technology to facilitate the procedure of lung nodule localization. This study aims to investigate its feasibility in clinical application.Methods:Patients with peripheral lung nodules (<2 cm) were enrolled. Preadmission computed tomography images were downloaded and reconstructed into a 3D model. A digital model of the navigational template was designed via computer-aided design software and then exported into 3D printer to produce physical template. The precision of the template-guided nodule localization and associated complications were evaluated.Results:A total of 16 patients were enrolled, and 18 nodules were localized through template-guided localization. The success rate of lung nodule localization was 100%, and the median time of localization was 13 minutes (range 10–16 minutes). In our series, no significant complication occurred, except for 2 asymptomatic pneumothoraxes. The median deviation between the localizer and the center of the nodule was 10.0 mm, ranging from 5 to 20 mm.Conclusions:This novel navigational template created by 3D printing technology is feasible, and it has acceptable accuracy for the application in lung nodule localization. The use of this navigational template could facilitate the procedure of lung nodule localization and may potentially break the dependence of percutaneous localization on computed tomography scanning.

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