Use of 3D printing in the design and manufacture of bespoke sealing devices for ascetic drains for palliative care epithelial ovarian cancer patients

EmmaJude Lyons, PhD student

Epithelial Ovarian Cancer (EOC) is the leading cause of gynaecological cancer related mortality in western countries [1]. Stage 4 EOC is associated with a build-up of fluid in the abdominal cavity termed ascites. The standard treatment of ascites is the placement of an ascitic drain in the abdomen to remove this excess fluid (paracentesis). Many palliative care EOC patients require long term, semi-permanent ascitic drains. These drains come in standard sizes despite the wide range of individual needs and body shapes. This ‘one size fits some’ model is indicative of the commonly accepted neglect of innovation in women’s health generally.

There are several challenges with current ascitic drains that greatly affect the Quality of Life (QoL) of EOC patients;

  1. Controlling the rate at which the ascitic fluid is removed is crucially important to prevent intra-vascular volume depletion (hypotension) & renal impairment.
  2. Leaking ascitic drains are associated with an increased risk of peritonitis and other adverse outcomes, such as mechanical irritant dermatitis around the entry (exit) site.
  3. Increased intra-abdominal pressure can lead to profuse leakage around the drain at the abdominal exit site due to inadequate sealing. In such cases, the ascitic fluid soils the patient’s clothing and bed linen, leading to discomfort, embarrassment, and lack of dignity.

This research will develop bespoke 3D printed solutions to enhance the functionality and improve the QoL of palliative care patients living with long-term ascitic drains.

Start year
End year
Principal Investigator
Professor Leonard O'Sullivan
EmmaJude Lyons
University of Limerick
Irish Research Council Enterprise Partnership Scheme with Breakthrough as the partner
Linked To Breakthrough Priorities
1, 3, 6

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