Colorado Fetal Care Center Uses 3D Printing to Treat Unborn Babies With Abnormalities

Share this Article

cofetMedical science and new technologies, such as 3D printing, converge in ever more inspiring ways. I know for me, I want people to have great options when it comes to fetal health and prevention of birth abnormalities: health care is all about “choices,” isn’t it?

The good news is that in the field of infant mortality, 3D printing is being used positively to prevent the deleterious effects of spina bifida (myelomeningocele). I don’t think anyone would quite argue against this — as in, “Is this kind of surgery really necessary?” — as the serious condition threatens the life of the fetus.

pregnancy

Spina bifida is more common than we realize; it is diagnosed in about 0.7 of every 1,000 babies born in the US. The condition is marked by an opening in the neural tube that runs along the spinal cord.

This can cause alteration of walking ability, swelling of the brain (hydrocephalus), lifetime incontinence, and many surgeries during a child’s life to treat complications. Almost 80 percent of those diagnosed will need a brain drain early in life to treat hydrocephalus, and the goal is to prevent that through fetal intervention.

fetal

It’s in the treatment of hydrocephalus that pioneering contributions are being made by 3D printing. In utero surgery is acknowledged as a great preventative measure to take, but surgeons can only learn the size of the spinal opening that they need to close up — or patch — while surgery is happening. Longer surgery times increases serious risks to both mother and child. Best to get that surgery done quickly, and the Colorado Fetal Care Center Team did just this during a recent surgery at the Colorado Institute for Maternal and Fetal Health.

3D imaging and 3D printing helped predict need and size of patch design for the undesired opening based on a model customized after the patient’s characteristics. 3D printing made a “template model” of the dural and skin defects that surgeons studied before the surgery. These 3D models have become regular tools in the fight against spina bifida.

The future of 3D printing is tied together with many other fields, and fetal medicine is by far one of the most challenging. Fetal surgery is about, ultimately, both mother and child  — and if doctors are equipped with the customized models of specific patients, they can perform theircolorado-fetal-care-center tasks in the most optimal manner. Eventually, a 3D printed “living patch” made from the patient’s own cells can help the healing process too. Fewer infants born with the harsh consequences of spina bifida is not an ethical quandary when it comes to fetal medicine.

Let us know your thoughts on this application of 3D printing technology in the 3D Printing for Spina Bifida forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

mmc-pre-op3-web

Myelomeningocele, Pre-Operative

 

Share this Article


Recent News

PEAK Launches Alien Beast 3D Printed Shoes for Limited Sale

Arevo Announces New Aqua 2 Carbon Fiber 3D Printer, $25M in Series B Funding



Categories

3D Design

3D Printed Art

3D printed automobiles

3D Printed Food


You May Also Like

Nexa3D Acquires NXT Factory, Introduces Eco-Friendly 3D Printing Washing Solvent

While Nexa3D may specialize in manufacturing super-fast stereolithography 3D printers, the company has been branching out recently, and narrowing its focus on the materials side of things. It launched the...

Featured

DyeMansion Secures Additional $14M in Series B Funding from New & Existing Investors

German company DyeMansion is known for its coloring and post-processing equipment, such as its three-step Print-to-Product workflow geared toward industrial 3D printing environments. Now, in order to continue transforming and...

T3D Announces New LCD-Based High-Speed 3D Printing System

Taiwan 3D Tech, also known as T3D, is a startup spin-off from the National Taiwan University of Science and Technology (NTUST). Headquartered in Taipei, the company was officially founded in...

3DPOD Episode 32: Tuan TranPham, Arevo

Tuan is known universally by his first name alone. Like Madonna and Beyonce, everyone knows hi by just that one name. In Tuan’s case his fame is 3D printing specific...


Shop

View our broad assortment of in house and third party products.