3D Printing Brings Confidence, Efficiency to Surgical Planning and Modeling

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Imagine you are a surgeon facing a transplant case with complex anatomical considerations. Now consider two potential scenarios: In the first, you have all the traditional planning tools such as two-dimensional images and standard models at your disposal. In the second, you have the same tools, but with the added resources of a digital 3D representation of the specific patient’s anatomy you can cut, alter and move on your screen and an anatomically accurate model that you can hold in your hands. In which of these scenarios would you feel most comfortable?

Bryan Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager, Materialise North America

The choice is clear to clinicians, hospitals, and analysts. Proven by the fact that since 2010, the number of hospitals in North America with a centralized 3D printing facility has risen from fewer than 10 to more than 100. According to Gartner predictions, 25 percent of surgeons will be using 3D printed models of their patients for planning and practice before an operation.

Beyond the clinical benefits of 3D printed anatomical models, medical 3D printing can have a financial benefit for hospitals as well. The preparation benefits that patient-specific anatomical models provide have led to savings in operating room time of over an hour and nearly $4,000 per case.

At Materialise, we’re working to facilitate this transition in the medical field by improving access to 3D printing innovations for clinicians. Whether hospitals choose a 3D printing service for production of models or invest in a point-of-care 3D printing facility, Materialise’s Mimics Care Suite software and our medical and clinical engineering expertise are the backbone of medical 3D printing.

Through image-based planning and medical 3D printing products and services, we have touched the lives of more than 5 million patients. This includes the creation of more than 350,000 patient-specific models, guides and implants and more than 50,000 patients helped by Materialise 3D printing software and services each year.

3D printing at the point-of-care, as opposed to using external 3D printing services, moves the 3D printer, the knowledge and the skill into the hospital. This allows clinicians to create patient-specific anatomical models more rapidly than previously possible while also leveraging the subspecialty knowledge available within the hospital. Ultimately, this reduces the lead time for models from an eight-day turnaround to as little as three days. This in turn enables more patients to benefit, expands the different applications in which the technology may be applied and reduces the cost per case of 3D printing.

As we look ahead to a new year, our industry will be challenged to establish additional best practices to help mitigate risks and support regulatory compliance as the role of medical 3D printing continues to expand.

We have taken several steps towards this objective, becoming the first company to gain FDA clearance for software to develop and 3D print anatomical models for diagnostic use. To support and facilitate adoption of medical 3D printing, we have developed the Mimics InPrint Certification Program, designed to identify compatible printers and materials, so hospitals can start their own 3D printing facility at the point-of-care with the peace of mind that both hardware and software fully certified for diagnostic applications.

In addition to partnerships and certifications, Materialise has also contributed to efforts led by the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) and the American College of Radiology (ACR) to build a 3D printing clinical data registry. This registry will enable the industry to collect data in support of the use of clinical 3D printing and benchmark its value. Through this effort, the industry is supporting the development of Current Procedural Terminology (CPT) codes for the technology, tailored towards reimbursement for 3D medical technology.

We are looking forward to continued momentum within medical societies, technical organizations, standards committees and regulators towards a new reality of medical 3D printing for a better, healthier world.

Bryan Crutchfield is Vice President and General Manager, North America for Materialise. He will further discuss 3D printing’s role in surgical planning and modeling during the AMS 2020 conference on February 11 at 11:35 a.m.

By Bryan Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager, Materialise North America

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