In January 2018, a 3D printed model of a kidney was used by surgeons in Belfast, Ireland to plan the transplant operation of a 22-year-old woman. The donor’s kidney had a renal cyst, which needed to be removed. Having a 3D model of the organ enabled the surgeons to plan the procedure in detail and discuss potential complications, even before entering the operating room suggesting the potential utility and power of 3D printing in medicine.
Exciting and innovative advancements have taken place in the world of 3D printing in the medical field. Here are some of the most interesting applications.
Medical research is currently underway on the use of 3D printing to create artificial arteries and organ tissues. This printing method uses living cells, rather than metal or plastic, to create a layer-by-layer miniature replica of a patient’s blood vessels or organs. Such artificially-constructed replicas can mimic human tissues and are being used for research and medical education. They can also be used in drug trials and for pre-surgery preparation. Researchers are also working on the use of bioprinting to create organs for transplants.
The production of surgical instruments using 3D printing is far more cost-effective than traditional manufacturing methods. Moreover, there are no cost escalations with increasing complexity. The development of 3D printing has also made it economically viable to modify the design of instruments to meet a surgeon’s specific requirements.
In the medical field, innovation has the power to save lives and improve the quality of life. 3D printing has provided a cost-effective and time-efficient way of optimizing the design of innovative medical devices. The concept prototypes of 3D printing are already being used by companies to garner performance data and feedback from doctors, which facilitates speedier approvals.
The complete potential of 3D printing in the medical field is yet to be fully explored and realized. The anatomical precision and cost advantages offered by this emerging technology are driving its growth. The 3D printing healthcare market is expected to surge to $2.32 billion by 2020, according to Allied Market Research.