The Future of 3-D Printing in Orthopedics

Just like stem cell therapy, 3-D printing is another technological advancement that is taking the healthcare world by storm. What began as a neat toy for tech enthusiasts has evolved into a critical element of success in medical specialties ranging from dentistry and cardiology to the separation of conjoined twins. In fact, the FDA has now approved more than 85 devices made using 3-D printers. This means that the future of 3-D printing in orthopedics is shining bright.

An Introduction to 3-D Printing

Originally known as Additive Manufacturing, 3-D printing creates objects by printing layers of materials on top of one another. This creates a three dimensional result that can be held, manipulated, and studied. In many cases, the 3D-printed version of a product is more fluid, organic, and structurally sound than the same product manufactured traditionally. Examples include customized implants, teeth, hearing aids, and prosthetics.

The power of 3-D printing has allowed incredible medical achievements that were previously impossible. For example, experts have developed 3D printed airway splints for babies with tracheobronchomalacia, a condition that makes the delicate airways around the lungs prone to collapsing. These 3-D printed airway splints are designed to grow with the young patient and have been successfully tested in three infants.

3-D Printing in Orthopedics

The immediate value of 3-D printing in orthopedics can be found in the models that 3-D printing creates. Orthopedic surgeons can use 3-D printers to create precise models of the joints or bones that they will be repairing, allowing them to produce patient-specific surgical guides. This type of surgical planning can make all the difference in a patient’s recovery.

Orthopedic surgeons can also use 3-D printing to create implants that are precisely tailored to individual patients. For example, a patient with dwarfism may need a total hip arthroplasty with hip implants smaller than those traditionally available. Current 3-D printing technology makes it quick, easy, and affordable to develop implants that are customized to unique patients.

You can always count on the team at Suncoast Orthopaedic Surgery and Sports Medicine to protect you from serious musculoskeletal conditions and provide effective and innovative treatments. Just call (941) 485-1505 to make your appointment now.