To understand why 3D printed surgical guides are making such an impact on medical procedures, you need look no further than Replica 3DM. This innovative supplier of medical and commercial 3D printed models is using its Stratasys 3D Printers to support 12 UK National Health Service (NHS) hospitals. The surgical models produced on the company’s Objet24 and Objet30 Pro 3D Printers allow surgeons to accurately test intended implants prior to surgery. As a result, the hospitals have seen a decrease in the length of surgical procedures leading to substantial reductions in operating room costs.

 It’s What You Don’t See

Replica 3DM’s Stratasys 3D Printers convert patient CT scans into physical 3D printed models. The materials used and special finishing processes enable surgeons to carry out precise pre-operative planning. By providing accurate visualization of anatomy including fragment position, the 3D printed models display important features that cannot always be seen in two dimensional images. “Sometimes conceptually and spatially, it’s difficult looking on a computer screen to establish the exact dimensions of the bone that is available to you for surgery,” said Alistair Morton, a surgeon in the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Department at the hospital. “So this is one of the areas where having a 3D printed model has revolutionized our surgery.”

Cranioplasty model 3D printed on the Objet30Pro 3D Printer, enables precise fitting for metal implant

For example, in the video case study featured in this blog post, Stephen Veitch, Consultant Orthopaedics and Trauma, discusses a hip replacement patient. The Stratasys 3D printed model shows a spatial loss of bone stock which is not indicated in the X-ray.  This then allowed the creation of a hip component which precisely fit into the patient’s hip socket (acetabulum).

3DM Replica also produces a number of 3D printed cranioplasty models in which the unaffected side of the patient’s face is mirrored to produce a 3D printed reconstruction, prior to the fitting and placement of a titanium plate. Originally established as a 3D modelling department of Salisbury District Hospital, Replica 3DM has since extended its medical 3D printing capabilities to NHS hospitals across the UK. Learn more in our two-part video series where we speak with surgeons and medical professionals using 3D printed surgical models.