If you read our blog, you know that we are especially interested in the medical applications of 3D printing. I've written a few times about its adoption in surgery planning. Now a recent published study conducted by Italian surgeon Dr. Nicola Bizzoto quantifies three advantages of 3D printing a patient's wrist (distal radius) fracture before operating.
Having an exact replica of the broken bones allows the physician to thoroughly plan the surgery in advance, knowing where to place screws and which plate size to implant. This preparation reduces operating room and anesthesia times. Shorter surgeries save hospitals money and less anesthesia improves patient outcomes. The model can also be used to improve patient education.
I only wish this practice had become widespread before my wrist surgery in 2014. The operation took longer than planned because my wrist was worse than expected - there were bone fragments that had to be removed. As a result, the anesthesiologist had to fully sedate me, and I ended up spending New Year's Eve in the hospital - not a Happy start to 2015, so while I hope to never go through a similar procedure again, I'm heartened by the increased popularity of 3D printing in medicine.