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Benefits of 3D Printing in Orthopedics

Exciting 3D Printing Technology Discussed by a Bay Area Knee Replacement Doctor

Saving the life of an at-risk, innocent child will always be heralded as a noble and meaningful act. Surprisingly, 3D printing is responsible for such a significant feat. It recently helped save the life of a new baby when doctors successfully created a special splint to keep his airway open. While this procedure was a matter of life or death, 3D printing can be used to accurately perform various forms of procedures. Many an orthopedic surgeon are touting 3D printing as the next best technological improvement to hit the medical industry.


3D printing aids in medical precision and can reduce surgery time by a third, which is safer for the patient. With 3D printing, a procedure can be practiced and visualized beforehand. For example, a knee replacement doctor can use the sophistication of 3D printing technology to predetermine the optimal spot to anchor a prosthetic before making an incision. When a surgeon slides a digital representation of a cupped insert into the system, the computer calculates whether or not the prosthetic will fit well into the socket. It also determines if the mounting pegs will poke through the patient’s bone, an issue that can cause the implant to dislodge.

When things look perfectly intact on the computer, surgeons can send the chosen file to companies that utilize 3D printers to sculpt custom templates. During the live surgery, these selected templates can be used over the socket to guide the tools to the ideal spot that was located during the computer modeling process. This process is a great way to eliminate issues from the beginning so the surgery can be conducted with minimal risk of anything going wrong.

This type of approach has been shown to improve overall efficiency in surgeries and increase the precision of joint replacement procedures. Despite its obvious benefits of improved accuracy and efficiency, its long term repercussions have not been fully determined. Since 3D printing is newer to the medical industry, much research stands to be conducted about the long-term benefits or potential risks.

San Francisco Shoulder Injury Specialist Knows the Latest in Orthopedics

3D printing is also known to be a costly investment. It can add an extra $1,000 to a procedure, and often requires patients to get additional radiation. To determine whether or not 3D printing is the best choice for your medical needs, consult a trusted San Francisco orthopedic doctor or shoulder injury specialist to discuss the different options available to you. Call us today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Halbrecht at 415-923-0944.

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