3D Printing In Medicine
For those that are a bit squeamish you will probably click on. However, there seems to be more proof everyday that some of the greatest impacts from 3D printing are and will continue to be in medicine.
Fresh off the BBC this morning is a report from Nottingham Trent University in the UK where Richard Arm (an MSc Smart Design postgraduate student) has 3D printed a prosthetic heart made of silicone. One produced from a model prepared with a CT scan. An incredible life-like model of a human heart which can be examined by medical students before they are let loose on the real thing.
What sets this 3D print of a heart part from other attempts is it is made by blending silicone as opposed to 3D printing with powder. It really does feel, behave and look like a real heart.
Mock Operations On 3D Printed Organs
The 3D printed prosthetic heart could potentially be operated on as well in a mock operation although a system to connect it up to a supply of synthetic blood would be needed. That will probably be the next step for the project.
Like aircraft pilots that learn on simulators, doctors and surgeons could benefit greatly from mock operations on 3D printed organs, tissue and bones. And 3D printing clearly has an important part to play in delivering the body parts needed for training medical students.
Perhaps the medical schools will not need the constant supply of donors who give their bodies to medical teaching and research for much longer. It may sound a bit macabre or squeamish for the average Joe Bloggs but 3D printing organs for this purpose may end up being a considerably cheaper and more efficient solution.