3D printing technologies were first used in dentistry. At the end of the 1990s, Align Technology began producing mouthguards for growing teeth using 3D printers. However, the first implant was printed by LayerWise in 2012. At the same time, the first operation on the implantation of titanium mandible, using 3D printing, was made.
3d Printing in Medicine
What are the advantages of bone prostheses created using 3D printing technology? First, the high production speed. The standard creation of prostheses takes too much time, which the patient may not have. Printing dentures is pretty fast. Secondly, low weight, which may also be subject to changes in one direction or another. It all depends on the degree of porosity of prostheses, which are often made of titanium. Thirdly, this very porous structure contributes to more rapid fouling of the prostheses with living tissues.
With the help of three-dimensional printing technology, doctors successfully eliminate problems with intervertebral discs that may appear due to active sports or due to the appearance of a spinal cord tumor. Materials for the manufacture of vertebrae have a porous structure, so the finished implants quickly become overgrown with bone tissue and turn into a full-fledged part of the human body. The only drawback of this method of treatment is a rather long rehabilitation period.
In 2013, American physicians for the first time performed an operation to replace the bones of a skull of an injured person in an accident. Thanks to titanium prostheses printed on a 3D printer, doctors managed to replace 70% of the patient’s skull! It is believed that such procedures on a monthly basis can save the lives of hundreds of people injured as a result of car accidents. In addition, successful treatment of patients suffering from a brain tumor is possible.
Previously, a prosthesis was picked up to replace a knee joint for a long time, and then the bone was grinded so that the implant insertion was completed successfully. Now, this procedure is performed only with the help of computed tomography and printing a suitable prosthesis. Printed on a 3D printer, the knee joint is not subject to mandatory replacement after 15-20 years, which is typical for traditional plastic or steel prostheses.
Prospects for the Development of 3D Printing in Medicine
The invention, called GS3, is a special orthopedic corset for the back, created using 3D printing technology. This corset is intended for patients undergoing rehabilitation after serious injuries or surgeries. The main advantage of the corset is the possibility of individual adjustment. Thanks to the built-in gyroscopes and accelerators working via Bluetooth, the corset does not hold down a person in motion, while providing constant support for the back and waist.
Development in Dentistry
The use of 3D printing in dentistry allows you to create high-quality and durable models of inlays, crowns, veneers, and bridges for their further introduction into the body. Various materials are used for printing fillings. They have not the only high level of biocompatibility, but can also be used to treat slightly damaged teeth.
With the help of 3D printers, you can simulate a large number of necessary objects in one session. Moreover, all printed models are stored in the system and can be used in the future, for example, for automatic modeling of teeth.
The Seal of Human Hearts
The American company BIOLIFE4D is currently engaged in the creation of artificial hearts, which are supposed to be printed from patient cells. According to the founders of this startup, three-dimensional printing of human hearts will forever solve the problem of a lack of transplants. A heart printed on a 3D printer with the patient’s own cells will not irritate the immune system and will be able to successfully replace the real heart.
In addition, after the operation is completed, the patient will not have to undergo a course of special drugs, as in the case of replacing the patient’s aortic or mitral valve, who is forced to use anticoagulants.