3D printing applications are increasing in the medical sector. Today it can be used to create customized medical devices for each patient, such as custom prostheses, orthotics, and implants. In addition, additive manufacturing also serves as a tool in more complex operations as it allows the creation of highly detailed surgical models and guides. In Spain, specifically, 3D technology is becoming increasingly important. Many hospitals, universities, research laboratories, and health centers are already taking advantage of this manufacturing method. One of these Spanish medical organizations is Tailor surgery. For this reason, we spoke with his team to learn more about the use of 3D printing in medicine.
3DN: Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your relationship to 3D printing?
I am Ferran Vilat Goma, specialized in Orthopedics and Traumatology. I did my PhD thesis on the application of 3D printing in my field, specifically how 3D printing affects the improvement of prognosis in proximal humerus fractures. I immediately realized that 3D printing could have multiple applications in traumatology. In parallel with my doctoral dissertation, I decided to promote the digital surgical planning laboratory currently known as 3DPTLab of the Parc Taulí Hospital Research Institute. From there I started different lines of research related to 3D printing and clinical applications. Currently, the hospital’s 3D laboratory carries out more than 22 research projects, the goal of which is to provide scientific evidence of the application of this technology in other specialties, not only in traumatology.
3DN: How did the idea to create Tailor Surgery come about?
Tailoring surgery in this field arose out of clinical research out of clinical need. We saw that 3D printing is possible Perform personalized treatments in orthopedics. Currently, orthopedics and traumatology are specialties, as most of the treatments that we perform in the operating room require the use of implants. Although the technology exists to make them custom today, the vast majority of surgeries are performed with standard implants. What current technologies do is adapt the patient to the implant. The main advantage that 3D printing offers us is that we can adapt the implant to each patient. In addition, since it requires digital surgery to be performed in advance, this technology allows us to anticipate surgery involving difficulties and inconveniences in advance. In this way we can improve patient diagnosis and treatment in a safer, more accurate and more effective way.
3DN: What should be considered when using technology in the medical sector?
The most important thing to keep in mind is that technology adds value to the process. That is, if it is a diagnostic process, the applied 3D technology improves the diagnosis compared to the current method, if it is a therapeutic process, it improves the existing treatment. Currently there are many applications in 3D printing, only those that prove to add value to the process are those that have been implemented. So you have to first prove the value this technology provides and then prove its safety, efficacy and cost efficiency, with my scientific proof.
3DN: What materials and printing methods do you work with?
The medical sector has a peculiarity that materials must be approved for medical use. Depending on their applicability, we can use different ranges of materials. We can differentiate into two large areas. Material approved for medical use. It must meet safety requirements and certifications for medical use, and depending on its application, the manufacturing process must also be certified. We mainly work with medical resins, silicones, polyamides and titaniums. other area experimental environmentvalidating prototypes, which will not be in contact with the patient, we can use a variety of materials for experimental testing and depending on technical needs.
3DN: How do you see the future of additive manufacturing in medicine?
I believe that the current adoption in the medical sector is increasingly found in different products and applications. I believe that in the next five years this trend will continue to increase, because many research groups publish their results from new applications. The benefits and applications that this technology provides to the medical sector are endless.
3DN: Our readers’ final words?
I particularly encourage researchers, the applications and possibilities are endless. Focus on those who really add value to the patient. Don’t get discouraged by making this happen. You can find more information here.
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*All image credits: Tailor Surgery
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