3D printed surgical guides save Malaysian man’s arm

Bioprinting is one of the more complex forms of 3D printing, and it will improve the lives of millions in the coming years. But it’s not the only form of 3D printing that will help us live fuller lives. As I mentioned in 3D Systems Investor and Analyst Day Highlights, surgical guides are already being printed to help surgeons execute precision tasks. Here’s a specific example of the method: Materialise, the company that distributes the Mimics Innovation Suite that was used in the designing of the 3D printed splint that saved baby Kaiba, worked with surgeons in Malaysia to create a guide that allowed a man’s armed to be saved.

The man fractured his arm years earlier and it never healed properly. Eventually his arm started to deform and cause him pain. A CT scan revealed that his arm would need to be rebroken and set properly. That’s a difficult procedure. To aid the surgeons Materialise 3D printed custom surgical guides to direct the cutting and drilling. The guide fit on his bone only one way, so the gaps and holes align perfectly with where the blades and drill bits need to go. Having the guide produced from a CT scan ensured that it was the right fit, reducing the amount of implants required and the time in the operating room.

3d printed surgical guide

One of the surgeons, Dr. Ranjit, explained “I have treated patients with a similar deformity and it is very complex surgery as all surgical steps are developed during the operation. Also, several implants need to be made available to choose from as the final decision can only be made intra-operatively. I found that being able to see the extent of the deformity before going into the OR and plan the surgery virtually tremendously improved the accuracy and final outcome. The guides meant that I didn’t have to spend as much time in the OR identifying the position of the cut and repositioning of the bones. I am excited that, together with Materialise, we can now bring such solutions to the Malaysian people.”

And Materialise does want these solutions to be available to Malaysians. Though this was the first surgery in Malaysia to be assisted by a 3D printed guide, Materialise wants to make sure the technology is available to even those of low income, so they started an outreach program called TOUCH. I’m sure such guides will become more standard around the world because they’re inexpensive and incredibly effective, saving time, money, and lives.

h/t: 3D Printer-World