3D printing in pediatrics: Saving lives using additive manufacturing
3D printing is more and more used in the medical sector, and it is clearly helping to save lives. We are often hearing stories about the 3D technology improving the lives of the patients, and 3D printing in pediatrics can obviously change some kids lives. This life-saving use of the technology is particularly useful for pediatric cares. Indeed, additive manufacturing is helping to create custom-made prostheses, implants, models of organs and so on. But how is 3D printing used to improve or save kids lives?
Let’s see how this 3D printing technology is used by scientists and surgeons in pediatrics
Additive manufacturing, a technology particularly helpful for pediatric care
A solution to create custom-made devices
Additive manufacturing is allowing to create custom-made devices, it is a new way to develop customized medicine. The 3D technology is a solution to create prostheses for children. Indeed, we can see a lot of these stories on the internet. But it can also be used to create more advanced devices, like implants, or special tools for surgery.
Thanks to 3D printing these devices can easily be adapted to the morphology of a child. It is also a great way to create smaller tools for children surgeries. Additive manufacturing is an amazing way to create custom-made parts for healthcare.
3D printing, a time-saving technique
Thanks to the development of bioprinting in the upcoming years, surgeons will be able to use the patient’s cells in order to create a new organ. Additive manufacturing could soon allow creating new implants really quickly: patients won’t have to wait for a donor during months or years. This first aspect will be quite a good news for children.
If surgeries on children are always a little bit more delicate. Indeed, their bodies are not as resistant as adults bodies. Some surgeons are starting to use this game-changing technology in order to get a better visualization of a problem or to simulate the surgery. Indeed by simulating the surgery, adopting the right gesture, the doctor knows exactly what he has to do during D-day. This technique appears to be really efficient, as, for children, surgeries have to be as quick as possible.
Thanks to the wide range of 3D printing materials and technologies available on our online 3D printing service, you could easily 3D print models for medical purpose, and practice before your surgery!
What has been made in pediatrics?
3D printing for kidney replacement
This technique has also been used to save the life of a two years old baby at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London. The abdomen of the little Dexter and the kidney of his father, the donor, have been 3D scanned and 3D printed to allow the surgeons to practice before the actual surgery. It is not a common thing to do to transplant an adult kidney on a 2 years old baby. Thanks to 3D printing, the surgeons succeeded with this delicate surgery.
3D printed tracheal splints
Children Healthcare of Atlanta placed a 3D printed splint on a pediatric patient. Biomedical engineers developed custom-made splints for a seven months old baby, born with a heart disease and a tracheobronchomalacia, causing severe airway obstruction.
The team is still working on developing new versions of this device, in order to improve it. It is a really promising device which could help to save numerous lives.
3D printed implants
3D printing is more and more used for jaw reconstruction and this process can also be used for children! This is what has been made in the city of Jinan in China. A young kid had a rare form of tumour around the teeth which had to be removed. Traditional facial reconstruction was a little bit too risky for a kid of such a young age, that is why 3D printing has been used.
3D printing hyperelastic bones
It is possible to print smaller implants for kids thanks to additive manufacturing. But their body and morphology are still evolving! Scientists from Northwestern University developed a new 3D printing process to print hyperelastic bones. This new technology is allowing the bone regrowth with the growth of the body, which could be incredibly helpful for children! Thanks to this printing process, the bone implant could follow the development of the kid.
3D printed hearts are saving kids with a congenital defect
A nine-month-old baby has also been saved recently in China, thanks to a 3D printed replica of his heart. The baby was suffering from a Total Pulmonary Venous Anomalous Drainage, a congenital heart defect. All his pulmonary veins were malpositioned and he was also suffering from an atrial septal defect. As it is quite a rare problem, doctors had to train before the surgery. Additive manufacturing appears to be the best solution to do this.
A 3D printed heart also saved the life of a two weeks old baby. There was really no room for mistake on this surgery. The doctors needed to manipulate the heart of the baby and were hesitate between a few strategies. Thanks to a flexible 3D printed replica of his heart, the baby has been saved.
3D printed skull to save a baby
At the Princess Margaret Hospital, a baby was born with a huge birth defect, her skull actually fused over her nasal cavity. As a result, she was unable to breathe and needed a surgery. Performing a surgery on a young baby is quite complex and traditional tool wouldn’t fit on such a small baby. In this case, they also could have 3D printed adapted tools.
A 3D printed model of the baby skull has been 3D printed, in order to see how to proceed during the surgery.
Additive manufacturing still has a lot to offer to the medical sector and especially for pediatrics. The use of this technology could clearly become more common and save more lives in the upcoming years!
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