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alderThe UK’s Alder Hey Charity Hospital has recently raised a whopping £620,000 for its state of the art Research, Education, and Innovation Centre. This Centre, which opened in October 2015 and is being called the “Institute in the Park,” promises to be a cutting edge innovation hub for children’s healthcare technology. And when we, 3D printing readers, hear the phrase “healthcare innovation,” we also hear 3D printing technology, right? Absolutely. While Alder Hey Hospital adjusts to all of its recent upgrades, it is no shock that its surgeons are dabbling more in 3D printing. In fact, the hospital just recently announced it has performed its first children’s spinal surgery using a 3D printed model in an operating theatre. How’s that for state of the art?

According to hospital spokespeople, this surgery is the first time UK surgeons have used a 3D printed model in a hospital theatre to perform a surgery. The model was a 3D printed replica of an 8-year-old child’s curved spine, and it was used as a reference tool for surgeons while they performed the surgery.

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Senior surgeon Jai Trivedi with the 3D printed model

If you are not familiar with the benefits of 3D printed models as surgery reference tools, you will no doubt hear more and more about this application of 3D printing as the technology progresses. Doctors can use the models for pre-surgical preparation, and during the surgery for guidance. The 3D printed models are also quite useful communicating with patients regarding where and how the surgery will be performed, easing the minds of patients’ and their loved ones as they prepare for complicated procedures. We’re seeing applications expand around the world, from the UK to China to the US to the UAE to India — and even put to use for veterinary health.

Jai Trivedi, Senior Surgeon at Alder Hey, had this to say about using a 3D printed model:

“There is no doubt the model made this complex procedure operation much safer as it allowed for accurate pre-operative planning and implementation at surgery. Sterile models that can be held during an operation should prove helpful for other surgeons.”

The 3D printed spine model was made by 3D LifePrints, which has thoroughly appreciated the opportunity to put their technology to best use in conjunction with the innovative doctors at Alder Hey.hey1

“We are delighted to be working with the talented surgical teams at Alder Hey who are leading the way in terms of adoption of innovative practises such as 3D printing. Bespoke 3D printed anatomical models are ideal for complex operations such as this one, where they can improve outcomes and save time in theatre. From our embedded 3D printing hub at Alder Hey we are able to supply 3D printing services to hospitals and universities across the region,” noted Henry Pinchbeck, COO of 3D LifePrints.

And it looks like we’ll be seeing much more innovation from these doctors and other hospital staff as the hospital prepares to use its recent donation for expanded research into new medical technologies, including 3D printing. The donation, which comes at the hands of Matalan, a Merseyside clothing retailer, was raised from beanie and bobble hat sales — with 100% of proceeds going to Alder Hey.

Louise Barrett of Alder Hey hospital reports that the money will help “position Alder Hey as an international leader in the development of safer and more effective medicines for children.”

It also appears there will be more surgeries performed at the hospital using 3D printed models, as this recently completed one proved to be a great success. Are there hospitals in your area beginning to use 3D printing? Discuss in the Alder Hey 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

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