In recent years, 3D printing technology has had a significant impact on various medical fields, including both cosmetic and reconstructive surgery. Unlike cosmetic surgery, which seeks to enhance the body’s natural appearance, reconstructive surgery seeks to restore the body’s original functional integrity. 3D printing technology has many clinical applications in reconstructive surgery and is driving innovation in many unique ways. Continue reading to find out more.
What is 3D Printing?
3D printing is the process of creating three-dimensional solid objects using digital files. It is completed through additive processes, which means the object is created by laying down many layers in succession. In this process, computer-aided design (CAD) or 3D object scanners create precise geometric shapes one layer at a time.
What is Reconstructive Surgery?
Reconstructive surgery is the process of restoring the body’s physical integrity. It is necessary after an injury/trauma, disease, or birth defect. The purpose is to restore the body’s normal function and appearance. Unlike cosmetic surgery, which purely focuses on looks, reconstructive surgery also focuses on correcting the body’s functional abnormalities.
How 3D Printing is Transforming Reconstructive Surgery
3D printing is one of the most innovative technologies in the field of medicine today. Integrating 3D printing technology into reconstructive surgery impacts both patients and doctors in many ways. Some of these impacts include:
Easy pre-operating planning and better success rates
By combining MRI and CT data with 3D printing technology, reconstructive surgeons now have a better understanding of a patient’s pathology before committing to any surgical procedure. Combining these images with an editable 3d model made using a technique called photogrammetry, a surgeon can create a surgical model. This advantage leads to better surgery success rates because reconstructive surgeons can better assess the patient’s unique surgical needs and possible risks.
It is now easier to print customized prosthetics and implants
3D printing makes it easier to create customized implants and prosthetic body parts for patients. Doctors can create precise designs using 3d printing in conjunction with a patient’s diagnostic imaging data, creating implants and prosthetics that fit and feel better. This contributes to a better quality of life, enhancing body image, improving comfort, and reducing limb pain.
The technology makes it easy to create ergonometric surgical instruments
Ergonomics is about reducing user discomfort, strain, or fatigue when using a piece of equipment. Ergonometric tools can prevent work-related injuries or accidents. Ergonomic 3D-printed surgical equipment can reduce the surgeon’s discomfort when performing sensitive and high-risk reconstructive surgical procedures.
Training for reconstructive surgery is now more practical
To familiarize themselves with the risks involved, trainee surgeons can use patients’ 3D-printed models to hone their reconstructive surgery skills for real-life operations. 3D-printed models allow reconstructive surgeons to have a better understanding of human anatomy. They can rehearse the exact surgical routes to follow during real operations.
3D Printing is an impressive technology transforming reconstructive surgical practice. It provides better diagnostics, treatment, and outcomes. As the technology continues to advance, the transformative power of 3D printing in reconstructive surgery will only continue to grow.