3D Printing Is Changing the Medical Field

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3D Printing Is Changing the Medical Field

Postby 3dtech » Thu Jul 12, 2018 10:33 pm

3D printing offers more and more promise in the healthcare field. And while the ultimate goal of printing whole complex organs for transplants may still be decades away, 3D printing is helping to save and improve lives in ways - and in places - never imagined just a few years ago.

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1) 3D Printing Labs in Hospitals

“One of the more immediate emerging trends is the use of 3D printing directly in hospitals,” said Dr. Justin Ryan, a biomedical engineer and research scientist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Cardiac 3D Print Lab. “Up until a couple of years ago, there were only a few hospitals doing 3D printing directly in the hospital.”

Now, hospitals across the U.S and around the globe are setting up 3D printing labs within their complexes so that healthcare professionals can incorporate the process into a normal day’s work. In fact, Ryan’s lab has collaborated with more than 15 institutions spanning six countries. The work primarily focuses on printing patient-specific models prior to surgery to look at a patient’s specific anatomy, and in the past four years, Ryan’s lab has 3D printed more than 300 hearts.

Every year, 3D printing offers more and more promise in the healthcare field. And while the ultimate goal of printing whole complex organs for transplants may still be decades away, 3D printing is helping to save and improve lives in ways - and in places - never imagined just a few years ago.

1) 3D Printing Labs in Hospitals

“One of the more immediate emerging trends is the use of 3D printing directly in hospitals,” said Dr. Justin Ryan, a biomedical engineer and research scientist at Phoenix Children’s Hospital’s Cardiac 3D Print Lab. “Up until a couple of years ago, there were only a few hospitals doing 3D printing directly in the hospital.”

Now, hospitals across the U.S and around the globe are setting up 3D printing labs within their complexes so that healthcare professionals can incorporate the process into a normal day’s work. In fact, Ryan’s lab has collaborated with more than 15 institutions spanning six countries. The work primarily focuses on printing patient-specific models prior to surgery to look at a patient’s specific anatomy, and in the past four years, Ryan’s lab has 3D printed more than 300 hearts.
2) Low-Cost Prosthetics

Spurred on by interest from non-profits, 3D printed patient-specific prosthetics, often produced on low-cost, MakerBot-style printers, are having a major impact, especially in developing countries. The prosthetics come with the latest technology and are changing the lives of people who in the past had no hope of ever receiving these devices.

3) Customized Medical Implants

Thousands of 3D printed replacements for bony body parts: knees, hips, ankles, parts of the spine, and skull, are implanted every year, and the future holds more promise with 3D printed patient-specific parts. Although not generally approved by the Food & Drug Administration, some have taken place under FDA’s emergency clearance process.

4) Customized Protective Devices and Aids

3D printing is enabling high-quality, rapid, low-cost production of everything from dental implants to hearing aids, from prescription eyeglasses to headgear that fit better, work better, and offer better protection.

5) Future: Biomaterials for Organ Structures and Complex Organs

Although some trace the origins of tissue engineering back to the mid-1600s with the identification of cells, it’s often considered a young field as a modern scientific discipline since it began ramping up toward the end of the last century. With the development of 3D printing, the prospect of being able to reproduce human organs out of biomaterial suddenly seemed more than a pipe dream.


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Taking a step at a time, researchers started with simpler structures such as skin, blood vessels, cartilage, bone, and the bladder, along with parts of more complex organs, such as heart valves, and have made considerable progress.


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