Mackay Base Hospital in Queensland, Australia has installed 3D printers to produce patient-specific bone models to help in the treatment of broken or fractured bones. It is the first hospital in the Queensland where surgeons are using this technology to treat patients.
3D printing used for creating bone models for injured patients is one of most important uses of 3D printing in the medical field. Surgeons and doctors all over the world suggest that if tangible three-dimensional bones models of patients are available to them, it could help the doctors in pre-operation planning and preparations. The doctors can understand the real extent of the problem and conduct operations accordingly.
From UK, UAE to China, 3D printing is being used in hospitals around the globe. The surgeons at Mackay Base Hospital are using 3D printing technology to create models of bones that are fractured and injured. Jonathan Davis, a surgeon at the hospital says that seeing actual models of the fractured limbs has many advantages over seeing scans and x-rays. There are a lot of soft tissues that make it difficult to analyse the structure of the bones, but in a 3D printed bone model, the doctors can clearly analyse the limb situation without any obstruction of tissues on the way.
The patient’s 3D model can be printed in less than $12 in 3-12 hours, depending on the size of the model. The 3D printer, which appears to be Leapfrog’s Bolt 3D printer, is from the Netherlands and costs around $8,000.
Having a 3D printed model of the injured limb greatly cuts down the operation time. This reduces the risk of infection as exposure time of the open skin is minimal. Additionally, doctors can print models of the patient’s healthy bones, to compare them to the injured bone and the level of recovery needed.