The way additive manufacturing is progressing within the medical industry, it is sooner than we will see successful major organ transplants with the help of 3D printers. To date, 3D printing has never ceased to surprise us. And, when talking about the medical advancements, it has been a pioneer for many crucial developments. To be precise, the technology has the charm to offer a leap of exciting changes in medical care for saving people’s lives.
While there are many ways the technology is helping to better healthcare practices, there are a few more pronounced than others. Here is a glimpse of those popular 3D printing applications within the medical industry that are making a great difference in human lives.
3D Printing Used for Reconstructing Organs and Body Parts
This is one of the most successful applications of 3D printing that has brought huge benefits for patients and those in need. And, there are many examples. For instance, the technology is helpful in reconstructing jaw bone. The perfect example is the case of an 83-year-old lady where 3D printed jawbone saved a lot of hassle, for doctors as well as patients. Using the technology, the doctors were able to complete the procedure with less risk, given the age of the patient.
Apart from jawbone, the technology is also assisting with 3D printed knees. In this domain, the experts have been able to test two different theories into practice. One is the synthetic cartilage used during knee replacement and the other one is the knee realignment.
Another development is the use of 3D printing in breast reconstruction. Hence, those in need for breast prosthesis could make use of the technology that uses human fat instead of silicon, as utilized by traditional methods of breast implant.
The examples aren’t limited to these examples, but scattered widely around. In 2018, a three weeks old boy from Poland got a heart transplant with the help of 3D printing. Usually when scanning inside the body, doctors utilize CT Scans, or MRI. However, the problem begins when the part is too tiny to be seen with these devices. Also, when the problem is rare or atypical, usage of MRI or CT scan cannot provide necessary treatment follow-ups. However, 3D printing certainly adds room for improvements in these unmanageable cases.
Hence, in the case of the three weeks old boy, doctors used laser sintering 3D printers to create a heart for the boy. And, it was a huge breakthrough in the entire history of medical science.
3D Printed Medical Models to Train Doctors Before Surgery
Not every surgery is a usual one. Some are complex and require extra precaution and attention to each tiny detail. In such cases, 3D printed models become a life saviour. Using CT scan, doctors get a visualization of the problem. However, when printing models for parts using images that have been produced by a scanner, doctors are able to train themselves before planning the actual surgery. This eventually reduces the risk factor and provides doctors with proper medical procedure guidelines.
The real anatomical models are very handy when catering to a complex case. From the replica of the spine, lungs even heart is possible using 3D printers. Above all, many doctors have affirmed that the training process with actual anatomical models help in reducing the surgery time considerably.
Process of acting on the replicas is being accepted widely by surgeons to offer more reliable healthcare aids. For instance, doctors at Belfast City Hospital, Northern Ireland decided to 3D Print a kidney replica of the donor before making the actual surgery. The decision was made because of the complexity of the procedure that involved the receiver and donor with varying blood groups. However, the entire training allowed doctors to look at all the complexities possible during the process. And, plan their next steps accordingly.
3D Printing Helping with Testing of New Drugs
This again is a very crucial headway towards a more robust healthcare system. As you must know, 3D printing is being used to develop organs using human tissues, testing of drugs can highly be benefitted following the development. Do you wish to know how?
It’s actually not only easier to carry testing on real organs, but also less inhuman towards other living beings. This is because the testing of new medicines is done on animals. However, with 3D printers able to create real human skin with tissues, these testing can be performed on these models. Therefore, eliminating the role of animals throughout the testing procedure.
These cells (called human tissues) are first extracted from the patients. Using the 3D printing technology, these are then printed into a tumor, in a size of a fist. Once the model is created, the different drugs are tested to find out the maximum progress. Hence, letting doctors test different treatments for the tumor, without needing to include the patient’s health risk at all.
3D Printed Medical Tools and Prosthetics
Offering patients with personalized and suiting to the exact requirement, 3D printers are able to provide affordable and lightweight prosthetics. These prosthetics can be designed taking unique needs in consideration. Hence, allowing for better fit medical aids. Check out Pick3Dprinter’s list to read about The Best Metal 3D Printers doctors used to 3D print their tools.
Finding these medical applications do help us understand the depths of advancements that have been possible because of 3D printing. Without a doubt, the technology is enabling doctors and experts to explore the unknown facets of medical niche. With its amazing solutions, the most challenging problems such as organ transplant has become possible.
This certainly takes us to the next huge impact of 3D Printing on humans’ lives. What else could be more rewarding if not the increase in life expectancy of humans. And, 3D Printing could make that goal possible. The researchers are already gearing up to involve 3D printers for a variety of tasks within the healthcare niche. From dental models to bridges and actual implants, 3D printers are getting mainstream with time. And, as the number of users will surge, welcoming these machines for more applications, the results would be obvious, which so far, isn’t that clear to many.