Doctors Are Preparing For Surgery By Studying 3D Printed Bones

Alisha McKinney - Author

Oct. 25 2018, Updated 10:23 p.m. ET

Thanks to 3D printing, orthopedic surgeons can now get their hands on the bones of patients before they reach the operating table. Models of their patients’ bones are giving these surgeons a new perspective by providing them with more information than was previously available on flat scans of an individual, reports Medical Xpress. By scanning the actual anatomy of their patients, doctors are now able to print replicas of the patients’ bones and use the 3D printed versions as practice before performing the actual surgery.

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Doctors are even sharing the models with their patients as a way to educate them of the upcoming surgery, in an attempt to give them deeper understanding and perhaps place them at ease before the big day. Offices across UC San Francisco and various other affiliated health care organizations are now utilizing this technology in their practices. Alan Dang, who is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery, spoke with reporters, further explaining the current use of 3D printing in orthopedic surgery.

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“The total number of orthopedic surgeons using 3-D printing at UCSF is higher than anywhere else in the country.”

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In fact, this new technology is becoming popular among many health care practices. Radiologists, dentists, prosthetists, and pediatric cardiologists are making use of 3D printing as a tool for enriching education, thereby improving patient care.

Devices are being used in the UCSF Library, as well as in the classrooms, to better educate the next generation of health care professionals in the ways of 3D printing technology. The school has given anyone with a UCSF ID full access to the Makers Lab. The Makers Lab is where the technology is being housed, serving as a creative space with ten 3D printers up and running for students and professors to use.

Makers Lab plans to partner with the Department of Anatomy at UCSF. This partnership will see the launch of a new 3D printing elective class this fall, which will be titled, “3D Printing for Health and Science Students.” The elective will be 10 weeks in length, hoping to boost the momentum for 3D printing across the entire campus. Derek Harmon, Ph.D., Director of the Anatomy and Learning Center, will be teaching the 10 week class. The goal seems to be spreading the word about this new use for 3D printing, aiming to have it adopted across all health care systems, according to Aenor Sawyer, M.D., assistant professor of orthopedic surgery.


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