3D Printed Medical Models & Instruments: Impacts Continue to Grow in Musculoskeletal Applications

Canadian medical doctors Adnan Sheikh and Bruce B. Forster examine the growing importance of 3D printed models and instruments like surgical tools, outlined in the recently published ‘Holding It in Your Hand’’: Musculoskeletal Applications of 3D Printing.’

Noting the impacts digital fabrication offers to the medical realm, the authors see 3D printing as one of the ‘fastest growing technologies,’ currently revolutionizing many medical practices—and operating rooms.

3D printed medical models are in a category all their own, offering benefits on so many different levels. Doctors and surgeons are able to better diagnose health issues, from tumors to aneurysms and much more. With visual aids like patient-specific models, medical professionals can also offer much more comprehensive preoperative education to patients. 3D printed models also offer enormous value in training medical students, along with assisting in surgical planning.

Sheikh and Forster go on to explain the impacts 3D printing is also offering in the creation of countless medical devices today, from that of prosthetics that can be completely customized to patients affordably and quickly, along with so many different types of implants that are not only improving the quality of life for many—but sometimes saving their lives altogether.

Bioprinting is a huge field today also:

“The promise of creating living tissues is just being realized; tissue scaffolds can be 3D printed, on which cellular tissue can be implanted and then used to promote cellular growth, remodeling, and regeneration of bone and cartilage,” explain the authors.

“In the recent years, there has been an increase in hospital-based 3D printing facilities producing medical models. Imagine an ink jet printer that, rather than spraying out ink in the shape of letters, sprays out solid material like plastic or metal in the shape of a tooth, femur, or a joint prosthesis.”

3D printing of surgical tools is an area that is growing in popularity for surgeons also. While the obvious benefits of 3D printing continue to abound, Sheikh and Forster remind us that in some cases the technology may not be as affordable—or accessible—as presumed. 3D printed models and tools though, in the hospital setting, can offer surgeons ‘an unprecedented level of reassurance, confidence, and clarity in complex surgeries.’ The authors cite data stating that 3D printed models can decrease surgery times substantially.

By Bridget O’Neal | 3DPRINT.COM

Image Credit: Bridget O’Neal / 3DPRINT.COM

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About Peter Coffaro 748 Articles
A growth-driven and strategic executive, Peter Coffaro commands more than 20 years of progressive management success within the orthopedic industry. Recognized by MedReps.com as one of the top medical sales influencers in the industry; he has 10 years of combined sales management experience and has held positions as a Director, General Manager and Distributor. Peter has worked for some of the top orthopedic companies in the world - Zimmer, DePuy and Stryker. He is also the founder of OrthoFeed: a popular blog that covers orthopedic news and emerging medical technologies. Peter is a three-time Hall of Fame award winner at Johnson and Johnson and has an extensive background in organizational development, business development, sales management, digital marketing and professional education. Peter holds a B.S. degree in Biology from Northern Illinois University.

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