3D printing helps precision medicine

3D printing helps precision medicine

Often patients may be used to being in a doctor's or specialist's office and looking at x-ray results for analysis, but has the use of 3D technology ever occurred to you? As the healthcare industry faces providing a more personalized, value-based approach to care as part of preoperative and patient consultations, physicians and surgeons are taking advantage of advanced 3D printing capabilities to provide better preoperative communication to their patients.

On April 23, 2022, Antarctic Bear learned that a shallow analysis was given on how physicians can use 3D printing, and the proper use of anatomical models, to guide patients better through their treatment.

ΔPatient-based personalized 3D anatomical models for more efficient communication

Printing patient-specific 3D anatomical models

Every surgeon is well-versed in basic anatomy, but for less common and high-risk procedures, 3D anatomical models can also improve surgical outcomes and communication efficiency.

Instead of relying on traditional methods of imaging and using surgery, physicians can use 3D printers to generate highly patient-specific models from CT and MRI scans in the field. 3D printed anatomical models from patients are becoming an increasingly useful tool in today's precision surgical practices. As cases become more complex and OR efficiency becomes increasingly important, full-size tactile reference models can enhance patient understanding and improve communication within the OR team and with patients.

Not only can physicians simply explain complex procedures to patients, but they can also use 3D printing to guide them better through the procedure using models of anatomical structures. It has been documented that the addition of a 3D model communication component provides patients with a higher level of comfort and allows them to be more supportive of their potential medical procedure or that of their family.

In addition to using 3D printing to obtain patient consent for upcoming surgeries and procedures, generating a tactile reference model of the patient helps physicians better prepare for the upcoming procedure - which may reduce time, cost and complications in the operating room. Minimizing length of stay, it also minimizes COVID exposure, reduces burnout from frequent overwork, and allows hospitals to efficiently handle higher surgical backlogs.

All of these factors combine to help improve overall patient understanding and satisfaction, as well as clinical and process factors.

Practical use and application

In a recent case study, the patient had severe damage to the root bone of the left foot and urgently required surgical treatment. Radiographs and CT scans showed multiple old injuries in the affected area with complex deformities. The surgery in this case involved many sites and was complex and difficult.

Prior to performing the surgery, the surgeon performed 3D printing of the patient's problematic bones, with enlightening results. Through preoperative previews and discussions, the best plan for performing the surgery was accurately found, which will be much less invasive, reduce surgical injuries and time, and minimize injuries for the patient.

The future of 3D printing in healthcare

The technology is at a turning point for the healthcare industry. Once medical 3D printing can be rolled out in a big way at no additional cost. As the technology becomes more affordable, there is evidence that the future could provide better patient-physician communication for more informed medical consent in more hospitals.

In 2022, demand will continue to grow for 3D printers that can provide anatomically specific replicas for surgeries and patients. The adoption of 3D printing in the healthcare industry will become more common in the future, while this new technology will be relied upon to innovate the advancement and growth of the healthcare industry.