3D Printing Models of Patient’s Bone Fractures for Preoperative Reference

Korea University Guro Hospital (KUGH) has recently launched a program alongside Korea National University of Tranportation’s (KNUT) 3D Printing Chungbuk Center that plans to use 3D printing to aid bone fracture patients. Using radiographic data from the patient, the team will create models of the fractures that doctors can use to fit metal plates to prior to surgery.

The program was initiated by South Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT (MSIT) and aims to give surgeons models that will display complications in great detail. Some of these models will be dealing with complications occurring after a minimally invasive fracture surgery.

“The deformation of the bone often leads to complications in fracture surgery patients due to repeated surgery and the fracture site [i.e.,] nonunion and malunion,” said Professor Oh Jong-gun of the department of orthopedics at KUGH. “This makes operation very difficult as the conventional anatomical plate does not fit the complication; however, the team has found [that] 3d printing technology can provide a breakthrough solution for the treatment for such fracture complications.”

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Typically, surgeons must simply use x-ray and MRI images as references to prepare for a fracture repair. Use of 3D printing to create preoperative models of the patient’s injury is a novel concept that has potential to change the way surgical planning is done. Both groups ultimate goal is to greatly reduce time spent performing minimally invasive operations.

Fractures can often heal with just a cast, but more severe compound fractures require invasive surgery involving metal screws, pins, and plates. These plates are not always a perfect fit to the patient and can result in post-operative complications.

“Patients who had complications after fracture surgery have had a hard time using existing metal plates, as it did not perfectly match their injury,” Professor Oh Jong-gun. “Such issues led the surgeons to bend the metal plate by hand during operations, which increased operation time and resulted in re-operation in some cases.”

To remedy this, the KNUT will be assisting the KUGH in 3D printing models of patient’s bones from their CT and MRI radiographs. By doing so, surgeons will be able to form these plates to the patient’s bones contours before operation, tailoring the fit perfectly to the patient.

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MSIT previously invested $5.7 million in the Electronics Telecommunications and Research Institute and Research Institute who is working on a 3D scanning smartphone application. MSIT followed this investment with by announcing that they plan to spend 41.2 billion won, roughly $37 million, of 2017’s budget to bolster 3D printing in South Korea.

Source: 3D Printing Industry