3D-printed patient-specific applications in orthopedics
With advances in both medical imaging and computer programming, two-dimensional axial images can be processed into other reformatted views (sagittal and coronal) and three-dimensional (3D) virtual models that represent a patients’ own anatomy. This processed digital information can be analyzed in detail by orthopedic surgeons to perform patient-specific orthopedic procedures. The use of 3D printing is rising and has become more prevalent in medical applications over the last decade as surgeons and researchers are increasingly utilizing the technology’s flexibility in manufacturing objects.
As the clinical workflow of the 3D printing technology continues to evolve, orthopedic surgeons should embrace the latest knowledge of the technology and incorporate it into their clinical practice for patient-specific orthopedic applications.This paper is written to help orthopedic surgeons stay up-to-date on the emerging 3D technology, starting from the acquisition of clinical imaging to 3D printing for patient-specific applications in orthopedics. It 1) presents the necessary steps to prepare the medical images that are required for 3D printing, 2) reviews the current applications of 3D printing in patient-specific orthopedic procedures, 3) discusses the potential advantages and limitations of 3D-printed custom orthopedic implants, and 4) suggests the directions for future development. The 3D printing technology has been reported to be beneficial in patient-specific orthopedics, such as in the creation of anatomic models for surgical planning, education and surgical training, patient-specific instruments, and 3D-printed custom implants. Besides being anatomically conformed to a patient’s surgical requirement, 3D-printed implants can be fabricated with scaffold lattices that may facilitate osteointegration and reduce implant stiffness.
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