Three‐dimensional printing and the surgeon

Additive manufacturing technology refers to a variety of processes in which digital model data can be used to create three‐dimensional (3D) objects. The term has become widely synonymous with 3D printing.

An exponential growth in 3D printing technologies by scientists and clinicians has occurred in recent years, in the hope of improving patient care and outcomes. This technology already influences current clinical practice in preoperative planning, the use of intraoperative surgical aids and the development of bespoke prostheses. 3D printing is also a fundamental element in the concept of regenerative medicine designed to repair or replace damaged or diseased tissues and organs. This article presents an overview of current applications of 3D printing in surgical practice and examines potential developments in an age of digital healthcare.

Accurate imaging plays a major role in selecting patients for surgery and deciding on the most appropriate intervention. The surgeon needs this information to optimize operating times, and to predict and avoid potential complications. 3D printing and the construction of 3D models provide anatomical details in multiple planes and angles, along with haptic feedback obtained by being able physically to touch a replica that has a consistency similar to that of the living structure, with distinguishable vital structures including vessels and tumours. These geometric visuotactile senses allow comprehensive planning of unique and complex procedures with great precision.

Accurate imaging plays a major role in selecting patients for surgery and deciding on the most appropriate intervention. The surgeon needs this information to optimize operating times, and to predict and avoid potential complications. 3D printing and the construction of 3D models provide anatomical details in multiple planes and angles, along with haptic feedback obtained by being able physically to touch a replica that has a consistency similar to that of the living structure, with distinguishable vital structures including vessels and tumours. These geometric visuotactile senses allow comprehensive planning of unique and complex procedures with great precision.

To read the full article by Achala de Mel, click here.

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