3D printing in the medical field is really beginning to hit its stride lately. Whether it is the use of 3D printing to create models for surgeons to study, using 3D printers to create prosthetic hands or arms, or actually 3D printing replacement parts for the body, we are getting ever so close to a time when 3D printing will be used on a daily basis in every hospital around the globe.
The latest bit of news comes out of the Netherlands, where a patient at the Rijnland Hospital in Leiderdorp is set to receive a 3D printed shoulder & glenoid cavity prosthesis, with the help of orthopedic surgeon Dr. Cornelis Visser. The 3D printing of the prosthetic shoulder, in theory should allow the patient to get full range of motion back in his shoulder.
3D printing has allowed doctors to create a totally unique prosthesis that will fit the patient’s anatomy almost perfectly.
“A few weeks before the operation, we take a CT scan of the shoulder of the patient,” explained Dr. Cornelis Visser (translation). “This produces a 3D image. From this image, the optimum position of the prosthesis is determined, and a custom-made mold is printed in the United States. Previously, the position of the prosthesis was only determined during the operation, by the naked eye. Now I use this unique (3D printed) mold. This allows me to connect to the unique anatomy of the patient, by using the entire prosthesis.”
Once the surgery is complete, the patient’s new shoulder should feel more natural than that of traditional shoulder replacements. The prosthesis should move better, and there should be an equal distribution of force on the joint, when the shoulder is in use. Because of this equal distribution of force, the life-span of the prosthesis should last longer than traditional replacements, although there is no historical data to confirm this, since 3D printing is so relatively new for medical prostheses.
This is the first case in the Netherlands where a 3D printed shoulder replacement has been used in surgery. Previously this same technology has been used in the creation of knee prostheses.
What do you think? Will this technology become more common in the coming years? Discuss in the 3D printed shoulder prosthesis forum thread on 3DPB.com. [bing_translator]