Ústí hospital sets up 3D printing laboratory for orthopaedic surgery

One of the leading applications of 3D printing in healthcare is in orthopaedic surgery

3D printing has found a home in several industries, primarily the industrial and electrical sectors. But healthcare has also found many uses for the technology, including for creating medical devices, dental implants, patient-specific surgical models, and prostheses. One of the leading applications of 3D printing in healthcare is in orthopaedic surgery – which is precisely where it has started to be used in Ústí nad Labem’s Masaryk Hospital.

Many hospitals around the world have already adopted 3D printing technology over the last few years – and now another Czech hospital has joined them. The Faculty of Health Studies and the Regional Health Administration in Ústí nad Labem have set up a joint 3D laboratory to help surgeons better prepare for and plan their operations. Tomáš Novotný is head of the Masaryk Hospital’s orthopaedic clinic in Ústí nad Labem.

Tomáš Novotný,  head of the Masaryk Hospital’s orthopaedic clinic in Ústí nad Labem. | Photo: Jan Bachorík,  Czech Radio

“Data from all over the world shows that using 3D printing for surgery decreases blood loss and operation time and makes surgery less difficult for the patient, with shorter recovery times and fewer complications. Previously when doctors performed operations, they would either print an X-ray or CT image of the area they would be operating on beforehand or get the image up on screen in the operating theatre. Now, doctors can 3D print a model of the patient’s entire pelvis and feel out the terrain before they have even stepped into the operating theatre – without having to do anything invasive to the patient’s body.”

3D printing in healthcare also has other benefits, including decreased costs and customisation, as parts can be shaped to perfectly fit a patient’s anatomy. It has therefore proven particularly useful in orthopaedics, Tomáš Novotný’s specialty.

“In our department we focus on the repair of broken endoprostheses (an artificial device that is placed inside the body to replace a missing or faulty body part), so extensive pelvic defects around endoprostheses that patients got say, 20 years ago. So far, we have used 3D printing for 11 such patients, which is the most in our region and probably even in the Czech Republic.”

Novotný jokes that there are likely many more 3D laboratories in Czechia than are officially on record, but most of them are not found in hospitals.

“Czechs are experts in garage DIY. We have a lot of ‘laboratories’ for 3D printing in Czechia, but most of them are in surgeon’s garages at home – it hasn’t taken hold in many hospitals yet. We wanted to have it in our hospital, in the faculty of medical studies, in our region, so we can have a joint workplace where 3D printing can be done professionally.”

While in 2018, healthcare represented only 10% of 3D printing demand, changing trends may see this proportion grow as more hospitals and healthcare facilities see the necessity for 3D printing in response to the growing old-age population. 3D printing will be a $32bn industry by 2025, rising to over $60bn by 2030, according to estimates from GlobalData.

Authors: Anna Fodor , Jan Bachorík | Source: iROZHLAS.cz
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