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3D printing becoming prevalent in healthcare

This blog post is part of our Essential Guide: Where the vendor neutral archive stands in medical imaging

If you’re a health IT professional and you’re not looking into 3D printers, you might want to start now. Some hospitals have already got a jump on this not-so-new technology that is helping some physicians improve patient care.

Recently, SearchHealthIT spoke with Adnan Siddiqui from the Jacob’s Institute in Buffalo, N.Y. Siddiqui is using a 3D printer to create 3D models of brain aneurysms that require a complex and risky surgery. Having a 3D model of the aneurysm he will operate on enables him to better plan the surgery by trying out various methods and seeing which one will yield the best outcome.

And it’s clear that many other hospitals are finding value in 3D printing — and not just when it comes to brain aneurysms. According to an article by the Huffington Post, quite a few hospitals across the United States are using 3D printing to solve various problems, including:

  • Shriners Hospital for Children in Houston, Texas, is using 3D printing to create prosthetic hands for kids. 3D printers produce lightweight, customizable and inexpensive artificial hands which are ideal for children. They can even choose their own colors and don’t have to worry about damaging the prosthetic because replacing it is easy and cheap.
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston is using 3D printers to help with face transplants. With the help of CT imaging, Brigham and Women’s is using 3D printing to create life-sized models of patients’ heads, which help the surgeon understand the facial anatomy and allows them to do plan in advance, operate with more confidence and spend a shorter amount of time in the operating room.
  • Seattle Children’s Hospital and the University of Washington Medical Center are using 3D printers to help surgeons practice before they perform heart surgery, a challenging procedure to say the least. Also, using CT scans and MRIs, surgeons are able to create an exact replica of the patient’s heart that feels real to the touch.

All of these examples show the potential demand and value in healthcare that will come with 3D printers, and point to the importance of the underlying healthcare technology that will be involved.

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