The medical industry is full of remarkable stories about how 3D printing is changing and even saving lives. Medical 3D printing is a field that is growing fast, and its growth and evolution comes largely thanks to hospitals themselves, which are willing to experiment with new technology and thus push it forward. 3D printing companies play a role as well as they develop medicine-specific machines and materials and work with hospitals to implement those products in the real world.
One particularly technology-forward hospital is SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. Named a “Best Children’s Hospital” by US News and World Report, Cardinal Glennon has been working with 3D printing for a while, namely a Stratasys J750 multi-color, multi-material 3D printer. Now the hospital is teaming up with Stratasys to open a new 3D Printing Center of Excellence that will serve as a space to facilitate innovation in multiple 3D printing-related medical areas, including pre-surgical preparation, medical research and patient treatment. Areas of focus include neurosurgery, orthopedics, cardiac treatment, and hand and cranio maxillofacial reconstructive surgery.
“As a leading pediatric care and academic research facility, we’re committed to continuous improvement by harnessing cutting-edge tools like 3D printing. The Stratasys J750 full-color, multi-material 3D printing solution allows us to do just that – powering unprecedented breakthroughs in planning and treatment,” said Steven Burghart, President of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “Our Center of Excellence stems from a long-standing partnership with Stratasys, working together to raise the bar in all that’s possible in patient care.”
The J750 is ideal for 3D printing medical models, as it can create especially realistic models in terms of color and texture. Thanks to its multi-material capabilities, it can combine flexible and rigid plastics to simulate hard bone and soft tissue. Its fine resolution enables models to capture details such as thin vascular walls, and capabilities in design were recently enhanced further with voxel-level capabilities via GrabCAD Voxel Print.
“3D printing provides increased confidence in the operating room and results in a faster, more efficient operation,” said Alexander Lin, MD, plastic surgeon and co-founder of the 3D Printing Center of Excellence. “In a recent plastic surgery reconstruction of a skull defect, we used a 3D printed intraoperative guide that matched the skull defect precisely. Without hesitation, we could use this guide to create a precisely shaped bone graft that perfectly matched the skull defect. In the past, this process would have been estimated, which can lead to longer surgery with higher risk of brain and blood loss, and a less precisely fitted reconstruction.”
SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital is the country’s only free-standing non-profit Catholic pediatric hospital. It’s also a teaching hospital, staffed with physicians affiliated with the St. Louis University School of Medicine. In addition, it’s at the leading edge of some of the newest medical technology, and will now have the opportunity to advance further thanks to the Center of Excellence.
“Numerous advances have expanded treatment options for patients, particularly those who need highly advanced medical care,” says Scott Rader, GM of Healthcare Solutions at Stratasys. “Stratasys depends on our clinical partners to demonstrate patient benefit using 3D printing in training and the flow of patient care. To fully realize Dr. Lin’s vision of optimizing treatment, there needs to be greater collaboration between industry and thought leading institutions to create standards, best-practices and to develop the fact base on how to get the most from a hospital-based 3D printing program. Led by some of the industry’s most respected medical professionals and backed by Stratasys technology, SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital’s new Center of Excellence will quickly become the gold standard that demonstrates all that can be accomplished with medical 3D printing.”
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