A new study aims to alert medical professionals to the potential of 3D printing’s future use in the field.
3D printing technology is going to transform medicine, whether it is patient-specific surgical models, custom-made prosthetics, personalized on-demand medicines, or even 3D printed human tissue, says Jason Chuen, Director of Vascular Surgery at Austin Health and a Clinical Fellow at the University of Melbourne.
Before inserting and expanding a pen-sized stent into someone’s aorta, the hose-like artery that carries our blood away from the heart, Chuen, a surgeon, likes to practice on the patient first. Not for real of course, but in plastic.
He has a 3D printer in his office and brightly colored plastic aortas line his window sill at the Austin Hospital in Melbourne. They are all modeled from real patients and printed out from CT scans, ultrasounds, and x-rays.
“By using the model I can more easily assess that the stent is the right size and bends in exactly the right way when I deploy it,” says Chuen.
“At the moment 3D printing is at the cutting edge of medical research, but in the future the technology will be taken for granted by all of us in healthcare,” he says.
At its core 3D printing is the use of computer guidance technology to create 3D objects from digital plans by applying layers of material, such as heated plastic, or powders in the case of metals and ceramics. It is being used to print out anything from toys and food, to warships producing on-demand spare parts and even drones. Medicine is just another frontier.
The new paper, coauthored by Chuen and Jasamine Coles-Black, from the Austin Hospital in Melbourne, appears in the Medical Journal of Australia.
Here are the top five areas in which 3D printing is set to change medicine, according to the Chuen and Coles-Black:
By Andrew Trounson-Melbourne | Futurity
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