More evidence of the power of 3D printing to advance medicine: surgeon from Great Ormond Street Hospital enthuses about the benefits of the technology.
Professor Martin Elliott is a paediatric cardiothoracic surgeon at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the internationally renowned hospital for children. He believes that 3D printing is one of several technologies that will revolutionise medical procedures for children and adults alike.
As we reported earlier this year with Mia Gonzalez, 3D printing can be used to make a precise replica of human organs like the heart, which allows surgeons to better study and prepare before they operate on a patient.
GOSH has been exploring similar techniques with a 3D printer. With a simple CT scan and a 3D printer, they were able to create anatomically accurate 3D models of hearts and tracheas. Creating these models allows surgeons and anaesthetists to practice tricky procedures with different size equipment that are tailored exactly to patients.
In September 2015, the team used this technique to create a 3D printed tailor made windpipe that allowed anaesthetists to trial a complex surgical procedure before taking it in to a young patient with a rare respiratory condition. This cut down the child’s time under anaesthetic.
“The days of basing operations on snowy images on screens are long gone,” says Professor Elliot.
Give to Gosh and Help Fund Medical Breakthroughs
This festive season, London daily newspaper The Evening Standard has a charity drive with their Give to GOSH Christmas Appeal. The goal is to fund programmes which will find new cures and treatments for children with rare diseases… and perhaps raise money to purchase more 3D printers.
Professor Elliott also made a few other predictions — such as breakthroughs in tissue engineering, meaning a patient will not have to take anti-rejection drugs and that they are less likely to reject their transplant.
He also considers “big data” to be a big advancement too. Currently, doctors are working with NASA and Formula One to find out how to use huge amounts of data collected from patients.
In future, it may be possible for patients to only come into hospital when their data shows a problem thanks to algorithms that predict when problems during treatment or recovery might occur.
Professor Elliott told The Evening Standard: “Last year at the Austin Grand Prix they collected 235 terabits of information from cars running round the track in two hours. That’s the scale of what they can handle and deliver — it’s not that hard to imagine it might have an impact on medicine.”
The technology is already at research stage at GOSH and he added: “I don’t think this is science fiction any longer, it’s just how long it is going to take.”
To find more information or make a donation, head on over to the GOSH website.
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