One of the greatest benefits of 3D printing is customization. While it sometimes may seem like we live in a one-size-fits-all world of stuff, we as humans are anything but. And nothing adds comfort like something personally tailored to our bodies or preferences. While you might be thinking how nice that is in terms of so many of the items we follow—from the more basic innovations like 3D printed shoes to apparel—just imagine the options this opens up for healthcare that is fitted to each person from education to treatment plans–and subsequent surgeries.
In the UK, a partnership between two leaders in technology is offering amazing new options for patients within the National Health Service (NHS). After all, what could possibly make more sense than a leading 3D printer and scanner supplier joining forces with another that makes 3D printed models for surgeons? Companies like SLS 3D Ltd. and Replica 3DM are helping personalized medicine turn from a concept into a reality, and they celebrated their ongoing and very successful collaborations recently at the launch of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Personalised Medicine at the Portcullis House in London. The group will be providing a new forum on personalized medicine, and in looking for solutions, they are focused on the challenges and requirements of clinical implementation in the NHS.
“Replica 3DM seeks advice from SLS 3D Ltd on how best to achieve this common goal and SLS 3D keeps Replica 3DM up to date with all the latest advances in the world of 3D technology,” states Eve Parker, Development Manager for the SLS 3D team, in a recent blog.
With their range of MassPortal Pharaoh printers, SLS 3D is able to provide Replica 3DM with the tools needed to make high-resolution 3D surgical models under tight deadlines. The models can also be made at a fraction of the cost, compared to their older machines.
“The print materials used for a single cranioplasty are greatly reduced and the machines start from around £2,300–and are small enough to fit on a desktop,” states Parker.
Currently, Replica 3DM is responsible for providing many 3D models to NHS. They have been doing so now for almost five years, and offer their services to 32 different hospitals within the UK. According to Parker, the company is now one of the leading experts in medical 3D printing.
“The 3D printed medical models are ‘carbon copies’ of the refined DICOM data from CT and MRI scans,” states Parker. “The materials used and special finishing processes allow surgeons to carry out pre-operative planning.”
The improvements offered for medical care via 3D printed models are substantial. Not only can surgeons often use them for diagnosing complex conditions, they can also use the models for educating patients and their families about a patient’s status as well as an upcoming procedure, which may well be one never before performed—as these medical models now allow for doctors to consider and practice for new surgeries that previously may not have been possible.
We all know from various learning experiences how vital visual aids can be. With medical models though, that experience is taken to a new level, offering an incredibly accurate view of anatomy. For surgeries that involve something like the insertion or pre-bending of an implant, the models are invaluable. And with the preplanning of which they avail surgeons, procedures are often performed more quickly, meaning patients are under anesthesia for a shorter amount of time. With small, more localized incisions often possible too, hospital stays can be shortened as well.
“Replica 3DM models help in the identification of correct surgery rental kits, saving up to twenty-five percent on unused kits as surgeons are able to pre-fit, drill and tap models during pre-operative planning,” states Parker. “A recent hip revision model which cost around £600 was able to reduce the overall procedural cost by an estimated £3,500.”
Translating to over $5,000 USD, that’s a stunning savings—and makes it clear why medical professionals around the world are turning to 3D printed models for assistance. These tools allow for personalized healthcare all around for the patient. Nothing about the surgery is generic, from diagnosis to assessing treatment, to explaining what will happen in surgery, practicing and preplanning, and performing the procedure itself.
Replica 3DM has been in the business of providing high resolution medical models for NHS Trust hospitals since 2012. Headquartered in the UK, their original goal was to provide services for trusts without 3D printing facilities. In 2013, the company also began providing commercial 3D printing services to the private sector.
SLS 3D is a leading supplier of both 3D printing and 3D scanning technology—offering clients superior precision, reliability and finish quality through their 3D printers. They have a wide range of offerings to include 3D printers, 3D scanners, filament, and accessories. Discuss this beneficial partnership in the UK 3D Printed Medical Models forum over at 3DPB.com.
[Source/Images: SLS 3D]