We’re not to the point of printing working organs yet, (although we are getting closer), but 3D printing technology recently played a very cool part in the care of an infant who underwent surgery for a double outlet right ventricle.
From 3D Printing Industry.com:
The infant’s heart was riddled with defects before the surgery at the Hospital and his surgeon, Dr. Erle Austin, said that he had anticipated that the surgery would be tricky and thus sought a model that offered more detail than traditional 2D scans.
I found a video from courier-journal.com describing the collaboration between University of Louisville J.B. Speed School of Engineering and the physicians at the University of Louisville. Click on the image below to go to see it (you will be redirected to a new site).
From the video I learned that radiologists sent images of the infant’s heart, and those were translated into a program that the printer could handle. The heart was printed 50% larger than than life-size, with a flexible rubber-like substance, and in three segments so physicians could see “inside” the heart prior to starting the surgery! This allowed the docs to estimate how long the surgery would take, and foresee potential outcomes and complications.
3D surgical planning models, custom-printed for the patient. Personalized medicine, indeed!