Technology is playing a huge part in all fields including the medical and healthcare sector. The revolutionary idea of 3D printing is somehow helpful for medical patients as it can indicate the exact position of a fracture as well as bone pathology. It is not long when 3D printing was newly introduced. It has made its way to the medical industry, especially orthopedic patient care in no time.
The first author of this study and director of Orthopaedic Research, Dr. Nathan Skelley from Sanford Health in Sioux Falls says that 3D printing is now available to almost all orthopedic surgeons. It is no more a technology reserved for engineers alone.
He further added that new advancements in 3D printing help in prototyping, researching customization and many other tools related to the orthopedic sector. This incorporation of 3D technology in orthopedic patient care can bring improvement in treatment and recovery.
3D printer is not a heavy machine, the latest models are smaller, cheaper and easily available to be used by the physicians. The easy and free access to the 3D imaging software has made this printer-based technology even more convenient to use.
The study authors identified other advance imaging machines such as CT scans to be available for 3D modeling as well. It could also help to build customized orthopedic solutions, invasive simulations, and whatnot. Likewise, the researchers also came across multiple ways to link this 3D printing technology with other advancements i.e. in education, learning, planning, surgery, prosthetics and personalized devices for patients.
They further evaluated that 3D printed technology could help in almost all musculoskeletal studies i.e. studying trauma, shoulder, hand, spine, sports medicine, cancer, joints, and even arthroplasty would be easier. Dr. Skelley adds that the physicians no more have to visualize complicated anatomical structures using paper and pen. This new 3D printing would help to understand all these mechanisms more efficiently.
Matthew J. Smith is an orthopedic surgeon and second author of this study from the University of Missouri. He shared that “3D technology truly is a game-changer with results that can’t be fully quantified at this time.”
The research team has been exploring the work efficiency of 3D printing to find solutions to medical problems. In one particular patient’s case, Dr. Skelley successfully printed the model of the patient’s shoulder. He stimulated multiple surgical ways to find a solution that helps to reduce and protect the collar bone which was dislocated. This new technique was not the classic musculoskeletal approach. This 3D printing model helped him to refine a technique even before stepping into the operation theatre. This same surgical approach is used by many other surgeons and used on patients with 100% efficiency and no problems to date.
In December 2017, the FDA released a comprehensive guide on what does the medical industry expects from these 3D printed machines. It further explains that the FDA would regulate the manufacturing claims particularly related to orthopedic gears.
But it would not directly regulate the clinical practice of any certain medicine or the orthopedic practice in general. So in adopting 3D print technology in orthopedic patient care, the physician has the most important role to play and he should be aware of usage and limitations of the particular device.