CLEVELAND - Daniel Rayes was living his dream managing an upscale diner.

"I get to serve them, take care of them, talk to them and then form relationships," Rayes described.

A happy, healthy 25-year-old until...

"I started to get like delirious and dizzy," Rayes said. "It felt like I had a migraine, but like there was a spoon digging outward, it was above my right temple and behind my ear."

Rayes had a brain aneurysm, a weakening of a blood vessel. If not treated, it can cause stroke or even death. Angiograms and CAT scans give surgeons a detailed look at the problem before surgery.

"Planning is the biggest thing; it's sort of like building a house. You don't have blueprints. It's really hard to be successful," explained Dr. Mark Bain, a neurosurgeon at Cleveland Clinic.

Now, neurosurgeons are using information from the scans to make exact 3D printed replicas, the same size and same shape of the aneurysms.

"When you can actually print an aneurysm and hold it in your hand in life size and be able to rotate it and see it, it really means everything," Bain described. "I mean, you can plan the whole procedure."

Surgeons can develop a patient-specific plan, visualizing the surgical approach, cutting time in the operating room by almost half, and it's an educational tool for patients and young doctors. As for Rayes, his surgeons were able to clearly see his aneurysm. They clipped it to prevent it from bleeding and now he's back at the diner.

"I have friends here," Rayes said. "I have customers and coworkers that care about me and I care about them."

The cost of 3D printing is one limiting factor, as is time. Because it typically takes a couple of weeks to generate a replica, the technology is limited to non-urgent, non-ruptured aneurysms.

Recommended for you