Teeth, hips and bone replacements from a 3D printer: The production of implants has already made great strides in routine clinical practice. However, there are still many unanswered questions when it comes to vital organs.
Present reality: 3D printing in orthopaedic and plastic surgery
Replacement parts from 3D printers are already being used in orthopaedic and plastic surgery, and also in dentistry. The prosthetics required in these fields can be constructed layer by layer in a 3D printing process so that they exactly match the patient’s anatomy. The blueprint for this is provided by three-dimensional, scans of sections of the body generated by modern computer tomography or magnetic resonance imaging. A series of images is created, which are converted by a software application into layer-by-layer printing instructions for the 3D printer. Using a special plastic, the printer then builds a three-dimensional implant particle by particle into a shape that is an exact replica of the body part to be replaced, such as a tooth or the femoral head of a hip joint. The method is also already in use in plastic surgery, for instance for patients whose facial bone structure has been partially destroyed in an accident. The missing structures can be precisely replicated using the new technology and then implanted.Read more