3D printing has not only provided sustenance to my family, but it has now provided great blessings as well.
I began my Additive Manufacturing journey by working with surgeons to utilize patient-specific bone models and surgical guides for added value in complex orthopedic interventions. The surgeon’s feedback relative to the benefit of utilizing the technology for pre-surgical planning, and intraoperative reference was extraordinary… both during the surgery, as well as post-surgery.
The attached photo captures a journey taken with my own son, who had severe scoliosis. He wore a brace for 16 years that was designed to “hold” the curve and prevent extraordinary progression, to allow for as much organic growth as possible. In 2015, it was decided that surgery was inevitable and imminent. Prior to surgery, a CT scan was ordered. I took the liberty of taking the DICOM images from the scan and having them converted into stl files. From those files, a printed model of his spine was grown via SLS technology (Nylon PA is a material that may be autoclaved and is allowable within the sterile field). This model was then delivered to his surgical team to act as a pre-surgical reference. As you can imagine, the only 3-Dimensional view the surgeon gets is that which is revealed after the patient has been opened up. This model allowed the surgeon to view the vertebrae, in whole. Was the bone model a necessity for scoliosis surgery? Perhaps not, but it certainly added another arrow to the surgeon’s quiver of tools walking into that OR in April 2015.
From a parent’s perspective…. Watching your child wheel away from you can be an overwhelming sensation. However, knowing that our surgical team had great experience, great knowledge, and one extra resource was reassuring. Thankfully, the surgery was a great success and his healing has been fast and without incident.
3D printing changes the way we design, the way we engineer, the way we repair… its application and ability to revolutionize is exceptional!