It may sound overwhelming, but for patients in need of reconstructive surgery, this could soon be the step from the Danish startup Particle3D. The company is pioneering a new method of 3D printing since custom bone implants that are implanted in your body and merge with your skeleton are slowly disappearing.
Technology carries less risk of infection and implants are tailored to your body (and the method could take as long as space!).
Custom bio-ink creates porous possibilities
Traditional implants generally consist of non-degradable materials such as polymer or titanium. Particle3D uses a "bio-ink" made of calcium phosphate powder (TCP) and fatty acids. TCP has been used in reconstruction for decades, but it is usually designed by surgeons of solid blocks in the desired shape of the implant. This approach can limit the potential positive effects of TCP, for example, when it comes to stimulating natural bone growth.
The Particle3D procedure begins with a patient's bone scans or the area where the implant will be placed. The data is fed into a computer program that allows surgeons and staff to optimize implant design using CAD computer models. A custom implant is then printed by Particle3D and sent to a hospital for admission.
3D printing TCP allows the company to create more porous implants. The porous structures allow the implants to act as scaffolds for blood vessels and natural tissue growth as the implants degrade over time as they are replaced by the natural bone. Tests on pigs and mice have shown the creation of a new bone marrow and blood vessel that develops in the implants after just eight weeks.
3D printing and healthcare
The use of 3D printing in healthcare has followed a similar path to manufacturing: from focusing on rapid production of original products to full production.
Early use of 3D printing in healthcare included printing XNUMXD models of bones, body parts and organs before surgery, allowing surgeons to better visualize and perform their activities before surgery. It has gradually moved to printing tools and solutions, such as medical and bone implants. Soon we may see XNUMXD printed body parts.
Adaptation, lower costs, shorter market time and distributed production are the advantages of 3D printing in healthcare. A good example is 3DP4ME. Although the name denotes an incomplete droid (robot) from Star Wars, it is a not-for-profit center dedicated to delivering hearing aids to millions of people in developing countries who do not currently have access to them. Through 12.000D scanning, XNUMXD modeling and XNUMXD printing, the not-for-profit network hopes to deliver XNUMX custom headsets aids for the next 5 years.
When it comes to 3D printing bone implants, one of the benefits is the low likelihood of postoperative infections and complications. Given the range of implant surgery, which often requires part of the patient to open the implant, infection is at greater risk for surgical implantation. interventions as well as subsequent phases of recovery. Some polymer or titanium implants need to be removed again later, which requires additional surgery. Implants can also lead to complications such as limited use of an extremity or chronic pain.
Creating an accurate replica of a bone and its three-dimensional structure that can aid in the gradual healing of the body as it could save patients both from additional surgeries and from permanent health problems.
Particle3D implants can also store medicines in their porous material for much longer than traditional implants. The traditional ones implants they are usually coated with antibiotics prior to introduction, but they wear out within a few days of the procedure.
But using porous TCP for bone printing has some drawbacks. Its strength is much lower than that of some human bones, such as our thighs. Compressive strength would increase over time, but could be years before the endurance levels before operation.
XNUMXD printed bones for Mars?
Several other groups are working on similar approaches. At NYU School of Medicine and NYU Langone Health, scientists have developed 3D printed scaffolds that could help patient groups such as children with skull deformities. Preliminary results show that up to 77% of bone skeletons have been absorbed and replace 6 months after surgery and that the newly formed bone was as strong as the original.
However, most research teams are in the same situation as Particle3D, warning that human use could still be years away. Part of the reason is that there is a regulatory lag when it comes to 3D printing of biological materials for human use. The administration medical licenses is, for good reason, often a lengthy process, so it can be even longer before the first human patients take advantage of the new technology.
A tremendous potential for improving patient treatment, including in remote and inhospitable areas, offsets today's complex regulatory environment.
The best representation of the inhospitable and remote locations that technology can serve comes from the work of the European Space Agency (ESA) 3D Printing of Living Tissue for Space Exploration. Its goal is to find ways to keep astronauts safe and sound, for example, on interplanetary missions to Mars. One of the essentials approaches its is 3D printing of skin and bone using bio-ink. Tommaso Ghidini, head of the ESA's Division of Structures, Mechanisms and Materials, explains that 3D printing could help astronauts overcome a wider field of medical incidents without increasing the need to occupy valuable space and mass in one. spacecraft.
Whether in space or on Earth, 3D printing has great potential in healthcare care to create new solutions and improve patients' prospects for recovery - and by 2020, technology looks set to take off.