Technology has led to several medical developments over the past few decades, and the industry continues to grow. One of the most important recent advances has been the use of 3D printers to help surgeons plan for procedures before the patient is in the operating room.
Surgeons at Yale Medicine have been using a 3D printer to assist their planning before going into surgery for a number of years. One of the top uses for MakerBot, the 3D printer housed in Yale’s School of Engineering & Applied Science, is making models of knee joints and surgical instruments for knee replacements. Dr. Daniel Wiznia is an orthopedic surgeon at Yale Medicine who uses 3D-printed models to practice his surgeries before performing them on the patient.
When planning a surgery, Dr. Wiznia inputs the patient’s data from an MRI scan into a computer program. There, he works with special software to plan where he wants to put the knee replacement, how he wants it to fit on the bone, the size of the implants and how the knee should bend. The information is then converted into a file that the 3D printer understands so that it can custom print the surgical instruments needed for the operation. Since the tools are specialized for each patient, and Wiznia has already planned how he will position the implants, he is often able to make smaller incisions. This reduces the strain put on ligaments and soft tissue, leading to less pain and blood loss and often shortens the hospital stay after surgery.
Read all of the ways the 3D printer at Yale is helping surgeons and patients here.