On Vector: 3D printing puts patients in surgeons’ hands. Literally.

A 3D printed model of a patient's skull. (KC Cohen/Boston Children's Hospital)

A 3D printed model of a patient’s skull. (KC Cohen/Boston Children’s Hospital)

This one was fun to write. Yeah, you can use 3D printing to make jewelry or little widgets, but as a technology it’s really starting to come into its own in medicine. And a couple of weeks ago, I got to write a long piece on Boston Children’s Hospital’s Vector about how one team is putting 3D printing use to make surgery safer and more efficient for children with complex conditions:

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but there’s something about holding an object in your hands that’s worth so much more. I realized this when John Meara, MD, DMD, handed me the skull of one of his patients.

I turned it over in my hands while Meara, Boston Children’s Hospital’s plastic surgeon-in-chief, pointed out features like the cranium’s asymmetric shape and the face’s malformed left orbit.

Mind you, it wasn’t actually Meara’s patient’s skull in my hands. In reality, I was holding a high-resolution, plastic 3D model printed from the patient’s CT scans.

You can read the rest, and see some more awesome pictures, here.


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