3D Printing in Orthopedics: What You Should Know


Technology and medicine are often in conjunction with one another - it isn’t uncommon for the medical sphere to take advantage of technological developments to advance care in medical fields of all kinds. It may sometimes take time for certain types of technology to be used for medical purposes, but once it all gets started, the benefits and impact can be very significant. 3D printing is a technology advancing the medical field. Since being integrated into medicine, orthopedic surgeons have been able to use it for new and revolutionary ways to truly make a difference in patient’s lives. Below, we’ll walk you through the basics of how 3D printing is used in orthopedics and the benefits that it can have for both physicians and patients.

How is 3D Printing Used in Orthopedics?

As the orthopedics industry deals with the musculoskeletal system, there are several conditions that require the creation and placement of implants, such as an artificial joint. Patients often face painful and debilitating conditions involving the knees, shoulder, spine, ankle, and other parts of the body, which can stem from injury, medical conditions, or wear and tear over time. Traditional implants are usually made of metals and ceramics, and a joint replacement procedure can bring a patient reduced pain and improved range of motion. 3D printing technology can be utilized to produce custom implants specific to the individual patient, rather than using a standard size implant for a large number of patients.

What are the Benefits of 3D Printing Orthopedic Implants?

The ability to 3D print custom implants is extremely beneficial for orthopedic surgeons and their patients. Orthopedic surgeons are given the chance to develop implants and devices that are perfectly matched to each patient using their medical imaging and scans. Custom implants can include shapes and features that are specific to the patient’s body, which can work towards solving the issue of patients being uncomfortable and/or unhappy with traditional implants. This opportunity makes an orthopedist’s job easier when a patient has specific anatomical issues that would make it difficult for a traditional implant to be used. 3D printing can also be used to create physical renderings of the bones in the body, which can be used for surgical guidance and help guide an orthopedist in creating an implant that is perfectly suited to their patient. 3D printed implants can be made from biocompatible materials as well as bioceramic composites combined with custom titanium implants. Joint replacements and other orthopedic procedures should not operate on a “one-size-fits-all” approach, and 3D printing allows orthopedic surgeons to provide care based on the patient’s individual anatomy.

Recent Developments in Orthopedic 3D Printing

Orthopedists around the globe are finding new ways to utilize 3D printing in the medical industry as time passes. The US Department of Veterans Affairs has been working with the University of Maryland Medical Center to expand the use of 3D printing for cardiology and orthopedics, and 3D printing has been expanded in Australia with the production of bone implants after success in 2015 with a 3D printed spinal implant. Another 3D printed spine implant, developed in the Netherlands, recently gave a 16-year-old boy suffering from neurofibromatosis the ability to walk again and successfully prevented complete paralysis. These developments are a very positive sign for the future of this technology and its uses in orthopedics.

Advance Your Orthopedic Practice with Help from HIS

Orthopedics is an ever-evolving and advancing industry, and with the help of technologies like 3D printing, we can expect to see advancements grow even greater as time passes. At Healthcare Information Services, we recognize the value that orthopedic practices bring to the communities they serve, and we work to help them maximize reimbursements, enhance profitability, and promote longterm sustainability. Our work allows orthopedic practices to give their full focus to their patients while we take care of the rest, including revenue cycle management and practice management & consulting. To learn more about how HIS can bring your orthopedic practice to the next level, please contact us today!