About medical 3D printing.
An introduction to 3D printing within healthcare.
Patient-specific anatomical models for preoperative planning
Medical imaging using 2D or 3D onscreen technology provide limitations when radiologists and surgeons are visualizing complex pathologies and abnormalities.
Increasingly, both radiology teams and surgeons are using 3D printing to create 3D 1:1 models of anatomical areas, replicated exactly from patients’ scans, which can be held in-hand and used for preoperative planning, simulation and collaborative team working.
These anatomical models are often used in patient communication and consultation to show and explain to patients about their medical conditions and what their surgical procedures will involve.
3D anatomical models also have use in surgical education, providing medical students and junior doctors the opportunity to exactly see tumours, fractures, lesions and other abnormalities.
What is 3D printing?
3D printing (also referred to as additive manufacturing) is the method of creating physical objects from a digital file by adding multiple layers of a material, or multiple materials to build a single structure. The structure is based on the input of a computer aided design file, in a format compatible with the 3D printing hardware.
The technology’s origins can be traced back to as early as 1983 when it was first invented by Chuck Hull, co-founder of 3D Systems. Since then this concept has evolved to include 15 methods or technologies of combining these layers, all commonly referred to as 3D printing.
What is 3D printing in healthcare?
3D printing in medicine has been in use since the early 1990s and in recent years, there has been a huge rise in the number of applications emerging in the field as a result of the technology becoming more accessible to users.
With major growth in precision and personalized medicine, there is a strong demand for custom and patient-specific medical applications, tailored exactly to an individual or their anatomy.
3D printing drives production of these custom-made products and devices.Examples of actual and potential uses of 3D printing in medicine include:
- Customized prosthetics and implants
- Anatomical models for surgical planning and education
- Pharmaceutical research including drug dosage forms and discovery
- Tissue and organ fabrication
- Personalized medical products and equipment
Why use anatomical models?
ENHANCED INSIGHT INTO THE PATHOLOGY
By holding the replica in your hand and having a true 360° view, you get a full view of the true anatomy in context.
REDUCED THEATRE TIME
On average, our customers report saving 30-60 minutes surgery time, with some cases showing 5+ hours saved.
IMPROVED PATIENT COMMUNICATION
Patient experience and consent are increased by seeing and holding models of their anatomy, aiding in consent discussions.
PREOPERATIVE TRIALING & SIMULATION
Educating and training new physicians, especially complex pathological conditions.
IMPROVED TRAINING & EDUCATION
3D printed patient-specific models support physical simulations of surgery. This saves time and increases the confidence of surgical teams.
"By having a 3D print of the patient’s anatomy in my hand, I get an extra level of understanding that just isn’t possible with 2D or 3D images on screen. I can plan the surgery in detail, considering the best approach, as well as the potential problems, before stepping into the operating theatre.”Dr. Tim Brown Consultant Transplant Surgeon, Belfast City Hospital