3D Printing technology can revolutionise medical industry
PRINTING TECHNOLOGY CAN REVOLUTIONISE MEDICAL INDUSTRY
Medical applications in 3D printing are intensifying swiftly and revolutionising the health care industry. 3D printing is a convincing new technology that has the potential to transform cardiac interventions. The rule of 3D printing is that before surgery, the doctor and surgeons can find out the anatomy of the organ. As we get a physical prototype of the organ, it makes easy and better diagnostics and understanding.
For instance, size of heart valve varies from person to person and with the availability of this technique, it is easy to plan exactly the sizing. India is at par with rest of the world in terms of medical advancement. In a country like India where there is scarcity of organs donation this technique is quite helpful and evolving. Around 20 cases per year end up with the use of this technology in any country, same like India.
Not many cases end up employing the use of 3D, but till now around 1520 cases have used this technology across India. It is definitely going to improve in India. When we started working upon it since last year, it was difficult for us to coordinate with the printing and its technology but now we are completely able to diagnose and feel easy to use. Similarly many doctors are unaware of this, but very soon they will come across and will improve.
What is 3D Printing?
When any object is manufactured by fusing or depositing material like plastic, metal, ceramics, powder or liquid, a 3D model is known to be printed. Dr Ajay Kaul, Chairman and HOD, Cardiothoracic and Vascular Surgery at BLK Heart Centre New Delhi, explains, “In the field of medical science where there is scarcity of organs and tissues, similar prototypes can be generated.”
Depending upon the resolution, speed and the type of material used, there is many a way to perform the printing. The 3D objects can be printed in any imaginable shape with high precision. Even the 2D radiographic images obtained through X-Rays, MRI or CT scans can be converted to 3D printable files that help the surgeon to analyse even the most complex anatomical model with ease.
3D Printing in cardiovascular diseases
In case of pediatric cardiology, where complex heart diseases require accurate anatomical description for better interpretation and correct intervention. This technology helps in producing the exact replica of the heart which is the most complex part to observe otherwise.
The challenges faced in case of 2D interpretation which requires significant expertise and highly experienced professional surgeons to interpret, 3D printing solves the purpose enabling surgeons more informed decisions and plan for precise surgery.
Dr Kaul said, “A physical model can be held in real to examine and plan various aspects of the surgery that includes approach, incision, cannulation etc. Such kind of pre-surgical planning leads to shorter operative times with lesser complications. Traditional methods may require re-intervention in some cases, where this model eliminates them and provides shorter cardiopulmonary bypass time, circulatory arrest time and fewer residual lesions.”
An operating room with such improvements transforms a quicker recovery and shorter post-operative stay. Utilisation of this technology is growing in India, and, with time, the potential benefits of 3D printing will evolve drastically.
Diversity in 3D printing
Apart from planning and carrying out complex interventions in congenital heart disease, coronary artery disease, and surgical and catheterbased structural disease, this has numerous applications in various fields of medical science.
Usually this method is popular in planning of heart operation, spine and other orthopedic procedure. As this has nothing to do with the patient’s body during surgery there are no ill effects on them. Any organ or tissue can be made in nearly any imaginable geometry through the translation of X-ray, MRI, or CT scans into digitalised 3D printfiles.
In the upcoming days, this technology itself will grow and develop with more advanced 3D models along with functional models where materials are more like the organs. Functional models along with organ like material could help us understand the diagnosis much better.
Advantages over traditional method
The freedom to produce implants of desired size and shape is the greatest advantage. Making surgical tools as per the requirement and customised implants and fixtures have a positive impact in terms of the time required for surgery, patient recovery time, and the success of the surgery.
As the items can be cheaply produced, the technology becomes cost efficient with the types of material and resolution available. With this technology, the products can be made within hours which are much faster than traditional methods that make it more reliable with enhanced productivity.
Lifesize models of affected organs allow better examination and decision making prior to performing real surgery.