Today was my 3D Printing day at RSNA. Spent the morning listening to some amazing work being done (Chaired by Dr. Frank Rybicki), and the afternoon taking in the rest of the show.
First were presentations covering how flows of blood and other substances through blood vessels, could be confirmed using models.
Dr. Tam shared how 3d printing could be used to plan for, and create parts for, medical procedures. He uses printed models in approximately 5% of his cases right now. He also did an enlightening study that showed that when presented with 3d models, the majority of physicians in the study changed their surgical approach. A model is indeed worth a 1000 pictures (or more!)
Dr’s Green and Mahani shared how 3d printing was used to save the life of a child whose bronchus would collapse and block airflow. The video about this is below:
There is some amazing work at the Advanced Tissue Biofabrication Center at the Medical University of South Carolina. They are pushing the envelope printing living tissue. You can check out a Reuters Tech Video here.
Future directions for 3d printing in healthcare were summarized nicely by this slide:
Number one is very provocative, and I agree with it. While Radiologists treated the creation of 3d models as a natural extension of reading 2d images, the work required to create 3d models can be done in conjunction with intermediary scientists and engineers, so that each discipline can play to its strengths. In the future I can see a role for “Post Processing Technicians.” These folks would be integral members of the Radiologic team whose purpose is to crunch imaging data into 3d and beyond.
I would include material science advances as an influencer in the future of 3d printing adoption.
Also, while indirectly included in the above list, cost reimbursement and FDA regulations are major players as the field matures and the technology gets adopted.
After the presentations, I visited with 3dSystems, Stratasys and Materialise , These companies have made, and are making, significant investments in medical uses of their technologies. This can only accelerate the adoption of 3d printing.
I left today excited and inspired by the work of these doctors and scientists.
Would love to hear your thoughts on the subject!