While the innovations and changes that CAD software and 3D printing have allowed many industries to make certainly aren’t trivial, none of them may be more important than the ways that computer aided design technology is impacting the healthcare industry. Thanks to the use of CAD, and the ability to realize innovative designs through 3D printing, doctors and healthcare providers have been empowered to save lives and improve the way they care for their patients, as we discuss below.
Blind Mother “Sees” Unborn Child through 3D Ultrasound
Brazilian woman Tatiana Guerra has been blind since the age of 17. Because of her disability, she had been unable to see the ultrasounds of her unborn child, a boy she named Murilo. But thanks to the intervention of Huggies Brazil, Guerra was able to achieve the next best thing when she was given a 3D printed replica of her fetus, based on data collected from her ultrasounds. While she is still unable to see her son, she can now do the next best thing and use her sense of touch to feel how her new child is growing, where before she had to rely on other people’s descriptions of ultrasound data.
The model was made by 3D printing company The Goodfellas, and has the words “I am your son” inscribed in braille near the accurate mold of Murilo’s head, face, and upper body.
For Guerra, this printout is a chance to bond with her unborn son in a way that was not possible for her or other blind women before. For the healthcare industry in general, the replica of Murilo’s face represents a trend of 3D printing making physical models for medical purposes easier and more affordable to create.
Custom Airway Tube Saves the Lives of 3 Children
While Guerra’s story might be heartwarming and represent a future of improved patient care for the disabled and impaired, it hardly represents a medical breakthrough. The story of pediatrician Dr. Glenn Green and his team’s use of 3D printing in medical care, on the other hand, is a powerful example of how the technology can be used by doctors and care providers to save lives.
In 2013, Green’s team stunned the world by announcing that it had saved the life of an infant, Kaiba Gionfriddo, by treating the child’s compromised airway with an airway splint made via 3D printer. When treating children, doctors have long struggled with the fact that young children’s rapid growth can compromise the integrity and usefulness of medically necessary implants.
When children’s bodies grow and change over time, traditional implants need to be replaced, removed, and closely monitored, in case they end up presenting a threat to the child’s health. Dr. Green’s implant changed all this, by being designed to both change its shape over time as Kaiba’s body developed, and to dissolve harmlessly inside the body after a period of three years.
In April of this year, Dr. Green’s team released a new report, which not only detailed Kaiba’s successful recovery, but discussed the cases of two other young boys with the same condition whom were successfully treated with the same splint. Green has also announced that he and his team are working with the Food & Drug Administration to begin clinical trials, hoping to use the 3D printed airway splint on 30 more children.
For more information on CAD and 3D printing and how they are used, contact us today at 800-700-3305.