The latest medical equipment found in the operating theater could soon be a 3D printer. As MYNorthwest.com reports, medical 3D printing advances may dramatically reduce the difficulties of complex surgical procedures in the near future.
Dr. Stephen P. Seslar, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Washington Medical Center, has been working to create 3D printed simulations of human hearts. These biological facsimiles are intended to be safe testing grounds for both fresh surgeons and veteran doctors alike to practice complicated procedures without risk to actual human patients.
With the help of Dr. Tom Burke, a materials engineer working to further the use of 3D printing in the medical field, Seslar and his team were able to create a realistic model of a patient's heart. Within the depths of his own garage, Seslar fashioned a replica using lifelike materials that mimic the elasticity, lubricity, and toughness of a real human heart.
With this incredible breakthrough in medical devices using organic replicas that provide accurate surgical feedback in the process, doctors are now able to practice procedures far too difficult or dangerous to get wrong while operating on a patient.
Perhaps most importantly, by utilizing 3D printing technology to create these imitations, surgeons can even recreate the specific anatomy of an individual patient. These exact anatomical replicas of real people allow Seslar and others around the world to hone techniques used in even the most complicated procedures.
The technology has already been proven by Seslar and colleague Dr. Kristen Patton, who have performed multiple trial procedures on 3D printed heart replicas in preparation for the real thing.
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