Materialise Turns X-Rays Into Seamless 3D Printed Guides for Knee Replacement Surgery in Belgium

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Materialise lg logoMy mother had knee replacement surgery last week, and it was done on an emergency basis. It was enough of a miracle for my siblings and I just to see that she could so quickly be treated and right back to walking her dog and thinking about playing with her tennis club again.  Years of athletics, wear and tear, and age were causing her to limp and endure agony that finally put her in an ambulance and right into the hospital. We were so impressed just to watch her go from being in excruciating pain to almost total relief, and being up and around in just over a week, with a body part rebuilt.

It’s amazing that the simple technology to replace a knee exists. It’s amazing that we can use scans and 3D-printed models and implants and parts to plan, to heal, to diagnose, and to educate and communicate. Taking that one step further though, with no surprise these days, is Materialise. There is always room to make medical technology better, but these days, the breakthroughs happening due to additive manufacturing and related software seem like absolute magic.

Belgium-based additive manufacturing company, Materialise, is well-known for being an innovator in medical solutions, and announced today that the first knee replacement surgery was completed using their new technology which doesn’t just use X-rays and CT scans in combination with helping to produce items such as 3D-printed models, but is actually converting X-rays right into 3D-printed guides.

Dr. Roger Jaeken, Orthopedic Surgeon in BelgiumOrthopedic surgeon Roger Jaeken, of the AZ Heilige Familie (Holy Family General Hospital) in Reet, Belgium, has successfully performed the first total knee surgery that was preplanned by means of the Materialise X-ray knee guide solution, the latest in helping medical personnel, doctors, and surgeons pre-plan for an array of procedures, as well as major surgeries—like knee replacements.

“I’m very excited to be part of this development project.” Dr. Roger Jaeken states. “The ability to work from X-ray images will make the surgical preplanning process even more efficient.  This is because, in many instances, patients will no longer have to undergo an often time-consuming CT or MRI scan, lead times will become shorter, and more cases will become eligible for preoperative planning.”

Materialise is offering the new products on a limited basis in Europe first and is still working on and evaluating the technology, before bringing it to the U.S.

Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen

Materialise CEO Fried Vancraen (left)

“At Materialise, we initiated the R&D program that is at the source of our new X-ray based technology shortly after the successful introduction of our CT/MRI based guide technology. The reason for this is our continued drive to stay one step ahead of the industry,” says Fried Vancraen, the company’s CEO.  “We consider the first treatment of a patient with our X-ray technology as an important landmark in this development program.”

Materialise has been in the news plenty lately, lauded with one innovative accolade after another, especially in the medical field–as we recently reported on with the story of Bradley White, where Materialise worked from a CT to produce a 3D model of the tumor inside his heart, alerting doctors to the fact that surgery was too risky, and guiding them to alternate procedures to alleviate his irregular heartbeat.

With the new technology, the time it takes to create a copy or replica will be reduced, as the scan can just be converted right into the required 3D tools and solutions. Perhaps the general medical speak in doctor’s offices and hospitals will change from “Get me a CT on this patient, now, please!” into “I need a 3D-printed guide–stat!”

Have you experienced seeing doctors or medical personnel use 3D-printed models or tools in the office or hospital? In what areas do you see 3D printed tools as being most helpful? Join the conversation in the 3D printed knee surgery forum thread at 3DPB.com.

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