From the auto and fashion industries to snack foods and retail, 3-D printing has sparked innovation in a variety of industries, especially health care. 3-D printing—the process of making a three-dimensional object from a digital model—is no stranger to BWH labs and clinics, as attendees learned at the 3-D Printing in Healthcare Fair, held earlier this month.
Co-sponsored by the Center for Surgical Innovation (CSI) and the Brigham Innovation Hub (Brigham iHub), the event featured brief presentations from seven Brigham and guest speakers who incorporate 3-D printing technology into their clinical care and research. More than 80 attendees sat in on the presentations, which were held outside of the Brigham iHub’s space in the Shapiro Center, and later met with speakers and examined 3-D printed models on display in the Brigham iHub’s space.
“With an expanding role in health care and research, 3-D printing is helping to create new innovations in patient care,” said Yolonda Colson, MD, PhD, executive director of the CSI and thoracic surgeon. “Having surgeons, physicians, scientists and engineers all working in a hospital setting helps to fuel this innovation.”
Radiologist Ritu Gill, MD, MPH, associate director of Surgical Imaging in the CSI, organized the event with the help of Radiology resident Tatiana Kelil, MD. Gill shared how her team is using 3-D printed models for thoracic surgery planning and how she and her team have designed customized implants and plates to treat rib fractures more efficiently.
Donald Annino, MD, DMD, of the divisions of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery, highlighted 3-D printing’s usefulness in jaw surgeries, for which traditional approaches can be limited. Surgeons can print custom reconstruction plates to precisely fit the particular curvature of a patient’s jaw, which reduces operating time and promotes better healing.
BWH is home to several 3-D printing resources, including the 3-D Slicer, a free desktop application built for medical image computing. Steve Pieper, PhD, of the Surgical Planning Lab, explained that this software facilitates the use of 3-D printing in areas such as image-guided surgery and quantitative imaging.
Seung-Schik Yoo, PhD, of the Department of Radiology, and E.J. Caterson, MD, PhD, of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, also presented at the event.
Tell us how you’re using 3-D printing technology in your area in the comments below.