3D printed shields protect the intestines during radiation therapy

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Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and MIT have developed 3D-printed shields to protect the gastrointestinal tract from the side effects of radiation therapy. Using CT scans, the devices can be personalized to fit the anatomy of each patient. The materials they are made of contain elements with a high atomic number that help protect tissues from gamma and X-rays.

Radiation therapy can be very effective in targeting tumors and helping to reduce them. However, it can also have important consequences for nearby healthy tissues. Side effects can be manifested especially in the delicate tissues of the mouth and gastrointestinal tract, and range from esophagitis and proctitis to mucositis.

“It’s not uncommon for gastroenterologists to consult a case to support a patient who experiences side effects from radiation to the esophagus, small intestine, or anywhere else in the gastrointestinal tract,” C said. Giovanni Traverso, researcher involved in the project, through a press release.

“When we treat patients with radiation, we do everything we can to minimize the area of ​​healthy tissue that receives radiation and divide the treatment into small doses, but it is a beautiful balance. We want to administer the maximum possible dose to reduce the tumor without causing damage. to healthy tissues, ”added James Byrne, another researcher involved in the study. “Our goal through this project was to find an innovative solution that could offer personalized protection to patients.”

The team tested a variety of materials for their suitability as radiation protection: the materials had to be 3D printable and also had to contain materials with a high atomic number that would help block the gamma and X-rays that they cause tissue damage during radiation therapy. Interestingly, the shields can be made to measure for each patient, based on CT scans.

After printing, shield materials should be placed on the body in areas where they can provide maximum protection. So far, researchers have tested their devices on pigs and rats and found that shields can protect healthy tissues when placed on the rectum and mouth.

Researchers have also simulated the functioning of the devices in humans and have estimated that they would reduce radiation exposure in the mouth by up to 30% in patients with head and neck cancer and up to 15% in the gastrointestinal tract in humans. prostate cancer. patients.

Watch this video that explains some of the details of the technology:

Study the magazine Advanced sciences: Custom radiation attenuating materials for the protection of the gastrointestinal mucosa

Via: Brigham and Women





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