Is 3D printing the future of surgery?

February 2, 2016 | Technology

3D printing could change healthcare.

For many elderly members of the Australian population, there are often numerous concerns when it comes to surgery. Long waiting times, expensive procedures and eventual rehabilitation can prove tough challenges to overcome.

With new technology, however, at least two of the above issues will become significantly easier to handle.

Improving surgery with 3D printing

3D printing is commonly associated with design and product development, but the technology is proving to have nearly limitless applications. Essentially, it streamlines the development of products by allowing people to use software to design components and then print these as real models in a matter of hours.

Now, it's being put to use where it could prove most effective.

Queensland Health recently published a release about the technology, with Deputy Director of Orthopaedics at Princess Alexandra Hospital Dr Nicola Ward explaining how it's helping to change the way surgeons view orthopaedic surgery.

She outlined how surgical planning is usually something that requires a detailed analysis of each particular fracture, but with a 3D model, it's easy to visualise where plates and screws will be required.

"Our goal is to get every patient back to their pre-injury function as much as possible after a significant injury," she said.

With regards to aged care, the technology could help to bring down waiting times and help to ensure procedures proceed more smoothly from the initial planning stages through to completion. Given that the elderly population is only growing, orthopaedic surgeries will likely become more common.

3D printing can be used for more than just the surgeries noted above, however, with the BBC reporting on an interesting use case at the Jacobs Institute in Buffalo, New York. To better understand the blood vessels of a patient being treated for an aneurysm, the doctors were able to view a model of the vessels to design appropriate solutions.

There's no denying that 3D printing is proving extremely useful in healthcare across the globe. Aged care especially is likely going to experience a number of benefits.

If you're interested in learning about the future of aged care Down Under and how providers can best prepare for significant financial challenges, reach out to Mirus Australia today.