Interview with Dr. Bernhard Dorweiler: 3D Printing for Vascular Surgery

Prof. Dr. Bernhard Dorweiler is Director of the Department of Vascular Surgery at the University Medical Center of Cologne. He received his M.D. Ph.D. from Johannes-Gutenberg University in Mainz 1997 and then completed residencies for general surgery (1997-2004) and vascular surgery (2004-2006). Following a research fellowship at Columbia University New York (NY, USA) (2008-2009), he was appointed Head of the Division of Vascular Surgery, University Medical Center Mainz in 2010. In 2020, Prof. Dorweiler moved to Cologne and was appointed full professor of Vascular Surgery at the University of Cologne. Prof. Dorweiler’s research interests include complex aortic surgery, peripheral arterial surgery with a focus on reconstruction using biological material and basic science (Atherosclerosis). Since 2015, Prof. Dorweiler is interested in 3D-printing and implemented in-house 3D-Printing Labs in Mainz and currently in Cologne where anatomical 3D-prints are generated to support patient-specific precision-medicine. Bernhard Dorweiler will be speaking at our upcoming webinar.

Jenny: When was the first encounter you had with 3D printing? What was that experience like? What were you thinking at that moment?

Bernhard: As a vascular surgeon, I was used to creating 3D renderings of vascular anatomy. When I found out, that 3D-printing would be possible with the same dataset, I became interested in 3D-printing and ultimately bought my first FDM-printer

A 3D printed model of the aorta (Image Source: Vascular News)

Jenny: What inspired you to start your journey in 3D printing?

Bernhard: 3D models open a completely new world for the perception of vascular anatomy. This affects the teaching of students and residents, research, patient education, and patient treatment.

Jenny: Who inspired you the most along this journey?

Bernhard: The most inspiring event was the response from patients holding a 3D-printed model of their individual vessel anatomy in hand and stating that for the first time, they did understand what their disease and treatment was about.

Jenny: What motivates you the most for your work? 

Bernhard: To proceed on our track towards a patient-specific precision medicine (surgery).

Jenny: What is the biggest obstacle in your line of work?

Bernhard: To convince hospital administration that buying a 3D printer and related infrastructure is an important and useful investment.

Jenny: What do you think is the biggest challenge in 3D Printing?

Bernhard: The workflow for generating a 3D-print can be further improved and more user-friedly and regulatory and reimbursement issues have to be solved.

(Image Source: Vascular News)

Jenny: If you are granted three wishes by a higher being, what would they be? 

Bernhard: A nozzle that doesn’t clog, self-eliminating support material, and another set of three wishes.

Jenny: What advice would you give to a smart driven college student in the “real world”?

Bernhard: Never surrender in case of failure. The impossible is what nobody can do – until somebody does it.

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