Customized Medical Devices: The Next Wave of 3D Printing Revolution
Much has been made of how 3D printing can assist medical device companies with rapid prototyping as well as the full production of specific types of products. Less focus, however, has been given to the concept of customization – specifically, the custom-tailoring of a medical device to perfect fit with the unique elements of a patient's body.
Today's Medical Developments (TMD) has published an article that uses the potential offered by knee implant manufacturing as a template for exploring the customization of medical products across the board. TMD illustrates how each individual knee is different from another, and in most cases, even a single patient will feature two different knee joints.
With the advent of three-dimensional printing, and the recent three-fold increase in knee surgeries for individuals between the ages of 45 and 64, it's instructive to consider how constructing a replacement knee that conforms exactly to an individual joint rather than using an off-the-shelf replacement can lead to better outcomes for patients.
Currently, 20 percent of knee implant recipients report not being satisfied with the results of their surgery, with pain and limited mobility leading the list of complaints. By using a custom-designed knee implant that takes into account the unique structure of the existing bone in the joint, it's possible to improve outcomes across the board.
While orthopedics represent a clear application of 3D printing technology and 'just-in-time' delivery of custom medical devices, it's far from the only product sphere that stands to benefit from this type of personalized medical technology. Just as genetic testing has lead to the rise of personalized medicine that takes into account the detailed medical history and prognosis of patients in choosing a therapy, so could three-dimensional printing open up vast new tracts of 'personalized' medical devices.