The medical industry is the most advanced in adopting and developing new treatments and technologies. In this contemporary era, technology is something that has become crucial. Technology drives us all forward, and lately, some miracles are happening in healthcare, such as robotic surgery, 3D printing, etc.
3D printing has resulted in customized medicine, allowed doctors to understand patient symptoms accurately, and generated efficiency in the operating room. 3D printing is leaving its mark in specialties such as orthopedics, pediatrics, radiology, and oncology, as well as in cardiothoracic and vascular surgery.
From developing new medical devices to presurgical planning, we will discuss the four uses of 3D printing in healthcare.
Developing New Medical Devices:
Medical devices must meet several requirements to serve their purpose. They need to be perfectly balanced in size and weight and are required to have particular shapes of the human body. Moreover, these devices have to pass specific endurance tests.
However, producing medical devices to meet these criteria consumes extensive time and resources. As an alternative, many manufacturers are leaning towards 3D printing. It is a process that uses a moving laser beam controlled by a computer to build the required structure layer by layer. 3D printing has been used to create the prototype of an inhaler, which has reduced the cost by 90% and production time to one to two days from one to two weeks.
Improving Existing Surgical Instruments:
The advantages of using customized 3D-printed surgical instruments like scalpels, forceps, or clamps are that they help surgeons perform better in the operating room, reduce operating time, and provide better surgical outcomes. The manufacturers use materials such as stainless steel, nylon, titanium alloys, or nickel to produce instruments well suited for sterilization.
A German medical device producing company Endocon GmbH has used metal 3D printing to create surgical tools. The company has also created an alternative surgical tool for hip cup removal. With Endocon’s stainless steel alloy 3D-printed blades, surgeons can perform surgery with more precision and in less time.
Indeed, simple prostheses are available but only in predefined sizes, while customized bionic prostheses cost a fortune. The situation has mostly affected children as when they grow, the prostheses also need modification or replacement, which only a handful of manufacturers do.
The Lyman’s Mano-Matic prosthesis created by Lyman Connor and Eduardo Salcedo provides bionic prosthetics to those who are unable to afford them and in dire need of them. The cost of manufacturing prostheses is much less with 3D printing. With 3D printing, prostheses designers can create prostheses without any financial obstacles and time constraints.
3D printing helps surgeons create a replica of the body part with MRI and CT scans to prepare them for surgery. In 2016, doctors used 3D printing in the surgery of a child with two unhealed bone injuries in his forearm. The treatment would have required a four-hour invasive surgery, but with a 3D-printed model, the surgeons pre-planned the whole procedure.
The procedure was completed in only 30 minutes, and the child managed to gain 90% of his arm’s rotation. Preoperative planning through 3D printing has enabled doctors to save time, have better surgical outcomes for patients, and have a faster recovery.
3D printing technology has become an integral part of the medical sector. There are absolute reasons why medical professionals are accepting it. 3D printing helps to produce cost-efficient customized devices in a short period. Moreover, it helps design customized anatomical models for patients, identify clinical solutions, and create new treatments for specific patients.
More medical professionals will use 3D printers often when their price decreases, which will help patients globally. The development of 3D printing will make healthcare more centered around customized care. Moreover, 3D printing is also influencing medical researchers to develop a new field of bio-printing that will help create organs and body tissues.
Thus, this concludes our thoughts on the uses of 3D printing in the healthcare sector. We hope you like our article and let us know what you think.