Medical Rapid Prototyping

Rapid prototyping (RP) produces three-dimensional physical models like a printer produces two-dimensional models. RP is a benefit to various industries, including manufacturing, machine tooling, engineering and certain surgical procedures.

Medical rapid prototyping involves the fabrication of teaching aids and customized implants for surgical teams. Researchers have developed a way to utilize the results of computer tomography (CT) scans to create prototypes or models of a patient’s bones. The model is a preview of the patient’s internal structure for surgical teams to practice their techniques before the patient is admitted for surgery. This familiarizes the surgeons with the patient’s particular physical characteristics during a reconstructive/corrective surgery, reduces the duration of the surgery and improves the patient’s prognosis.

Medical Research has developed vital functions of medical rapid prototyping: pre-surgical plan modeling, mechanical bone replication, teaching aids, custom surgical implants, prosthetics and orthotics.

Pre-Surgical Plan Modeling

Computer tomography (CT) scans are used to create a model of a fractured bone, such as a jawbone, which allows the surgery team to prebend fixation plates and more accurately choose screws and other accessories needed to complete the surgery. RP is beneficial in surgeries where there are anatomical abnormalities, creating a biomodel to prepare for non-traditional techniques.

Mechanical Bone Replication

RP can replicate mechanical characteristics and variations in bone specific to that patient. This allows technicians to test bone strength, and make observations and measurements of changes to bones created by fractures and stresses.

Teaching Aids

Models created by rapid prototyping can accurately simulate parts of the body, anomalies, or other medical conditions. RP anatomical structures for educational and display purposes may be created more quickly and with less expense than previous procedures.

Custom Surgical Implants

Instead of grinding a standard implant to fit a patient (before and during surgery), custom implants can be sized according to CT or x-ray images prior to the scheduled surgery. The patient and surgical team spend less time in the OR with a prepared implant sized to fit.

Prosthetics and Orthotics

Rapid prototyping decreases the time and cost of sizing a prosthetic or orthotic by using internally developed CAD system to develop biomechanically correct geometry to improve fit, stability, and comfort.

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