Dr. Tarek Loubani has designed a 3D printed stethoscope which can be made using recycled plastic in 3 hours for just $3. The device is especially useful in low-income countries which have little access to diagnostic tools.
The stethoscope still has its place in medicine. Although many Western countries rely on CT scans and ultrasound, Dr. Tarek Loubani points out that the stethoscope is a vital diagnostic tool in low-income and war-torn countries.
Loubani is an associate professor at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. He’s also an associate scientist at Lawson Health Research Institute and an emergency room physician at London Health Sciences Centre in Ontario, Canada.
Back in 2012 he was working in a hospital in Gaza where he shared a stethoscope with ten other doctors. These doctors were responsible for treating more than 100 patients. This was an impossible task and Loubani wanted to come up with a solution.
“We weren’t just low on medical supplies, but even the basics, like stethoscopes, were totally missing,” says Loubani. He wanted to find a way in which doctors could create their own supplies.
He explains that it was a toy stethoscope which gave him a light bulb moment. Although the toy was made from plastic, it worked well enough. As a result of playing with a toy, Loubani came up with the solution of an open-access template of a 3D printed stethoscope. Better yet, the medical-grade stethoscope can be made from recycled plastic.
The stethoscope is called the Glia model and it has now been clinically validated. Loubani used free open-source software to create the model, keeping costs to a minimum.
It’s possible to print the stethoscope using a desktop 3D printer and ABS plastic. Impressively, it takes just three hours to 3D print the stethoscope and costs under $3.
“Our product from this research is not the stethoscope, it is how to make the stethoscope and how to ensure that it is the best quality,” Loubani says.
“As far as we know this is the first open-source medical device that has been clinically validated… We wanted physicians and allied health care professionals to be able to have something that was high quality. We found that the acoustic quality was the same in our stethoscope as in a premium brand stethoscope.”
Physicians in both Gaza and London, Ontario are currently testing out the stethoscope. Next, Loubani plans to create more 3D printable medical device templates.
Want to find out more about the Glia model? The results were published in the journal PLOS ONE. Alternatively, you can download and 3D print your own stethoscope using the original files hosted on GitHub, Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory.
Source: Western News
License: The text of "This 3D Printed Stethoscope is Medical-Grade and Costs $3" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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