Next to Use 3-D Printing: Your Surgeon #3dthursday
Having attended fascinating lectures from talented doctor-makers such as Dr. Nicholas Giovinco who are using desktop 3D printers to print out models to plan their surgical work (and even make bespoke clamps and tools for the surgery itself), it was fascinating to see this technique as executed on high end commercial 3D printers.
Surgeons at a hospital in Japan recently faced a dilemma before transplanting a parent’s liver into a child: How exactly to trim the organ to fit the space in the child’s smaller cavity while preserving its functions.
So they took a knife to a three-dimensional replica of the donor’s liver built by a machine that resembles an office printer. The model helped the doctors figure out where to carve it, leading to a successful transplant last month.
Surgeons are finding industrial 3-D printers to be a lifesaver on the operating table. This technology, also known as additive manufacturing, has long produced prototypes of jewelry, electronics and car parts. But now these industrial printers are able to construct personalized copies of livers and kidneys, one ultrathin layer at a time.
The medical field in particular is expected to benefit greatly from 3-D printing. Scientists are working on ways to print embryonic stem cells and living human tissue with the aim to produce body parts that can be directly attached to or implanted in the body.
Printing out artificial body parts is likely many years away, but advanced 3-D printers are starting to make their mark at hospitals.
Two of the world’s largest industrial 3-D printer makers, U.S. companies Stratasys Ltd. SSYS +7.82% and 3D Systems Corp., DDD +7.03% offer machines that can replicate human organs.
Using medical images such as CT scans, these printers can construct translucent models made with variations of acrylic resin, enabling surgeons to understand the internal structure of the livers and kidneys, such as the direction of blood vessels or the exact location of a tumor….
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