Healthcare is rapidly changing and by this, I mean that the technology of delivery and care is advancing faster than the providers, the insurers and the patients can keep up. We are going to be seeing a remarkable transformation over the next few decades that will benefit patients most, and much of this is due to advances in 3D printing.
Now, some of this already exists today. There are prototypes built everyday by manufacturers using this technology for research and development but only a handful have fully embraced this technology in medical device implantation for patients. For example, there are cutting jigs that are designed and printed based off the patient’s individual anatomy that act as guides for the surgeon to define bone margins and planned cuts or alignment principles during orthopedic surgery. Commonly, a CT scan of the patient’s bones and joints is visualized with landmarks identified that plot the proposed positions and cuts the surgeon is going to make to accommodate for the proposed implant. This can theoretically and practically simplify complex procedures in to a ‘paint by numbers’ solution.
By Dr. Faisal Mirza | 3DHeals
Photo Credit: Jairo Alzate
Human innovation continues to push forward in so many directions. In all walks of science, researchers are achieving new “firsts” in the pursuit of a better life for the people of the world. Now, doctors in India, a country that has been basking in its recent record-breaking satellite launch, have completed the nation’s first 3D-printed spinal restoration surgery.
The patient, a 32-year-old Indian woman, lost her ability to walk due to a severe case of tuberculosis. The disease commonly affects the lungs, but it traveled to the woman’s spinal cord when her immune system was particularly weakened by drugs she was prescribed for infertility. The tuberculosis compromised her first, second, and third cervical vertebrae, removing support for both her skull and lower spine.
By Neil C. Bhavsar | Futurism
Image Credit: Sanjay Kumar Pathak / 3Dprint.com
Bone cancer often means amputation for patients. If they are lucky, surgeons can remove the tumour and insert a prosthesis into the cavity that contained the bone. But the prosthesis may not fit properly and can loosen over time. This could lead to further pain and costs for patients who have already suffered both.
Fortunately, new research published in Physics Procedia opens the door to implants that are custom-made right in theatre. Prosthetic bones can be made using additive manufacture, more commonly known as 3D printing. This involves building the prosthesis one very thin layer at a time.
Milan Brandt and his colleagues at the Centre for Additive Manufacturing at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, have developed a technique for designing, 3D-printing and fitting personalised bone implants within a single operation. They rapidly image the cavity with a CT scan and 3D print a lattice that perfectly fits its shape. “Our novel tools require only a fraction of the time used by current prosthesis design methods,” Brandt says.
Currently, scientists and doctors 3D-print prosthetic bones using plastic and hydroxyapatite – a mineral found in natural bone. Brandt’s structures, however, are made from titanium – a light, durable and rust-free metal. The researchers fused layers of powdered titanium with a laser, a technique that operators can use to create any shape.
Brandt and his co-workers tested their procedure on a model bone made from plastic, which was as strong as real bone. They removed about 40 per cent of this fake bone to mimic a surgical operation and filled it with a 3D-printed lattice.
German patient Inge W. had been afflicted with a hip malformation since her birth. Due to an extensive number of intense surgeries and revisions throughout her life, there was very little bone left in her pelvic region, leaving a large hole in the bone and making it very difficult to attach a standard hip implant. As her condition grew worse, it seemed that Inge had no other choice but to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life. Fortunately, she was able to walk again with the help of a patient-specific 3D-printed hip implant.
She approached the Helios ENDO-Klinik in Hamburg, Germany, Europe’s leading hospital in hip and knee surgery, to see if they could offer an alternative. After visiting with Dr. Thorsten Gehrke, the Medical Director of the clinic, it was clear that there was only one solution: a patient-specific hip implant, made-to-measure so it could fit the remaining bone perfectly.
The concept seems like magic—a few strokes of a printer and a prescription medication or a customized medical device is available at your fingertips. Yet thanks to additive manufacturing, more commonly known as “3D printing,” what seems almost unimaginable is indeed reality. The popularity and utility of additive manufacturing is rapidly increasing across countless industries. According to one report, the 3D printing industry grew to $5.165 billion in 2015, representing a 25.9 percent growth from 2014, (TJ McCue, Wohlers Report 2016: 3D Printing Industry Surpassed $5.1 Billion, FORBES, Apr. 25, 2016). The pharmaceutical and medical device industries are no exception, and are harnessing the power of 3D printing to make innovative medical advances and bring significant patient benefits. Nevertheless, the proliferation of 3D printing comes with a host of legal implications and uncertainties. As the use of 3D printing continues to expand and evolve in the pharmaceutical and medical device space, the existing FDA regulatory regime and traditional product liability principles will be challenged to adapt.
By Raymond Williams and Kristina Neff | The Legal Intelligencer
Fixing a fracture the ‘idiot-proof’ way – thanks to 3D printer which speeds up recovery and saves patients from repeat operations
To achieve perfect alignment, operations often have to be repeated several times, costing the NHS an average of £60,000 per patient a year. In up to ten cases a week, repeated surgery fails, leaving amputation as the only option.
The new technique, developed by a team led by Professor Anan Shetty, director of stem-cell research at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent, uses a combination of 3D printing and stem-cell therapy.
Doctors take a special type of CT scan of the bone from several angles, which is then used to create a 3D model of the limb on a computer. Often, new bone has grown that needs to be removed, after which a plate is used to fix the bone into the correct position.
Surgeons plan how the operation will be carried out beforehand and what the bone will look like after surgery on the computer screen. A life-size model of the bone post-operation is created using a 3D printer – a special machine that creates ‘sculptures’ by building up thousands of wafer-thin layers of plastic. The team uses this to prepare the steel plate that will hold the bone in place while it heals.
By Carol Davis | Daily Mail (UK)
Healthcare is one of the industries to most dramatically see changes occur due to the use of 3D printing technology. In fact, market research firm Gartner suggests that it is the medical sector that is leading the advancement of 3D printing over other industries.
3D printing has already become the dominant technology used to manufacture patient-specific hearing aids and dental aligners and, more recently, 3D printing has become increasingly leveraged for the manufacturing of patient-tailored implants, such as knee and hip replacements. This is clearly just the beginning for additively manufactured products in the medical space, which will one day include 3D-printed organs and patient-specific pharmaceuticals.
Among the large industrial players to adopt 3D printing for the production of medical products is Johnson & Johnson, a multinational corporation with some 250 subsidiaries across 57 countries and a market cap of $323.8 billion. While the multinational’s 3D-printed orthopedic implants have been on the market for several years, Johnson & Johnson is also partnering with some of the most exciting firms in the 3D printing space, such as Carbon, HP, Organovo and Materialise.
To learn more about how the corporation will leverage the technologies from these firms, I spoke with Joseph Sendra, worldwide vice president of manufacturing engineering & technology for Johnson & Johnson. As one might expect from a multinational corporation with some 250 subsidiaries across 57 countries and a market cap of $323.8 billion, the executive could not divulge too much about what Johnson & Johnson is working on behind closed doors, but Sendra was able to layout the corporation’s larger vision for 3D printing technology.