F11QRJ4-_400x400Patients in the southeast quadrant of the US may soon have researchers in their area to thank as they reap even more of the benefits being offered to the medical world by 3D printing. While Chattanooga is on the map for catchy jingles, highly suggested trips to Ruby Falls and Rock City, and a host of famous museums and historical sites, it’s also the headquarters for 3D Operations, responsible for unlocking the hidden information in MRI and CT scans through 3D printing.

22938634_SANow, 3D Ops is using their specialized processes to collaborate with the Erlanger Health System in conducting a study regarding the printing of 3D models that are customized specifically to patients and made to help medical professionals practice and plan for navigating procedures before they even swing open the doors to the operating room.

With all Erlanger surgical departments included in the study, the two companies will examine how the power of 3D printing lends itself to bettering patient outcomes and helping in the surgical process. The ultimate goal is of course to save time in surgeries, alleviate issues associated with risk, and ultimately to have the best patient outcome possible.

Erlanger Health System will surely provide plenty of data for this study as it encompasses five Tennessee-based medical campuses, including the region’s only children’s hospital and level one trauma center, providing the highest level of trauma care. Their Chattanooga facilities have been lauded by US News & World Report for four consecutive years as ‘Chattanooga’s number one hospital.’

It’s already fairly undeniable that 3D printing does help with surgeries in terms of making models that can allow for diagnosing serious and complex conditions, educating patients, concerned families, and medical students. Being able to unlock secrets to surgeries, as well as navigating a path before actually opening a patient up, however, should prove the truest value in 3D printing for everyone involved.

“This hospital-wide study will clearly establish many points of value for both patients and surgeons,” states the 3D Ops team in their recent press release regarding the beginning of the study, which will be conducted over the next six months.

heartsThis partnership in collecting data and research is certainly beginning with a strong foundation that most likely will work very positively in also helping to overcome any obstacles in using 3D printing in the Tennessee medical centers, as well as everywhere.

“We are thrilled to be working at the forefront of this revolutionary technology with 3D Ops,” said Kevin M. Spiegel, FACHE, President and CEO of Erlanger Health System. “There is no question 3D printing will change the way surgeons plan for their procedures, improve patient satisfaction and outcomes, and enhance medical training at hospitals around the world.”

The 3D models will be made from either MRIs or CTs and then fabricated using a range of materials like rubber, plastic, and other synthetic materials. This is not an uncommon practice already, and we’ve reported on extremely positive outcomes with the use of countless 3D models before, being used before and during procedures. We’ve also been following another ongoing study, similar in nature, although more specific, as researchers from MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital look further into the use of 3D printed heart models to see just exactly how helpful they really are during surgeries.

“The results of this extensive study will clearly establish the value of 3D printing in improving patient outcomes,” said Keith Campbell, President of 3D Ops. “We believe these efforts will positively impact the lives of thousands of patients and their families.”

It’s also thought that this dynamic study between 3D Ops and Erlanger Health System will help in establishing new standards and protocols for MRIs, CTs and imaging methods which are currently being converted to the studied 3D printed models. With the options afforded by the new technology, it’s hoped that exploratory surgery can be much reduced or even perhaps become a thing of the past.

Discuss this story in the 3D Printing is Changing Surgeries Forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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