A children's hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, has approved the $300,000 purchase of a third, deluxe 3-D printer to crank out more models faster.
At the Kansas City Area Life Sciences Institute's Midwest Bioinformatics Conference on Thursday, Children's Mercy Hospital radiologist Neil Mardis said during a presentation he thinks 3-D printing will be a routine tool in medicine within five years.
The hospital's journey in using the printers began two years ago when orthopedic surgeons told Mardis they wished they had a 3-D model of a patient's hip rather than 2-D scans, the Kansas City Star (http://bit.ly/2nUWT1m ) reported.
Mardis now oversees a lab with two 3-D printers with requests for models coming from a new surgeon almost every week.
Surgeries are increasingly done with minimal incisions because surgeons can visualize what they're doing with 3-D copies of body parts. This leads to shorter surgeries with less time under anesthetic.
"We spend less time in the operating room and that's much safer for patients, especially younger ones," orthopedic surgeon Richard Schwend said. "There's less risk for bleeding and less risk for infection."
Mardis has been booking speaking gigs to talk about the printers' potential, including one at a recent Las Vegas convention that brought together hundreds of radiologists across the country.
"People loved it," he said. "Nobody in the audience was doing 3-D printing, so it kind of blew their minds."
He said when the hospital gets the new printer he will be able to print organs like hearts and livers, or other soft tissue body parts.