Since we last reported an amazing 3D printing story in January 2015, the technology continues to demonstrate its extraordinary enabling powers in the operating theatre for the NHS, with another life transformed as reported this week.
Surgeons were able to use 3D printers to replicate body parts in a kidney transplant from father to daughter at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in London recently. With the contrast in size of the organs, 3D printers were used to make models of the daughter’s abdomen and father’s kidney from CT and MRI scans. This enabled the surgeons to accurately plan and rehearse the complex operation.
Hard printouts created the girl’s pelvis, whilst her liver was made softer in a liquid plastic model to enable the doctors to practice pushing it out of the way to make way for the new kidney. Happily, the little girl can now run around and eat normally and enjoy a very different outcome and normal childhood, whilst her parents have the simple joy of planning for her nursery integration in the Autumn.
Unlike in medical robotics where there have been more than two million operations since 2000 the robotics arena still carries challenges in winning over patient confidence. Here however, the winning smiles of father and daughter amply reflect the achievement of partnership between the human hand and advanced printing technology that shows there is plenty more in store in the future of 3D printing.