In the past few years, 3-D printing has leapt from the pages of science fiction novels and become a firm reality in today's world. Its applications in the medical world in particular continue to advance, and recent reports have found it's been successfully used for all types of health improvements.
Hip implants are the next big thing
One recent use of 3-D printing helped a patient who has undergone six separate hip surgeries to find relief by creating a brand new hip replacement specifically suited to her body, according to The Telegraph.
Surgeons working at Southampton University Hospitals in England were able to get a complete picture of the woman's existing hip using computer scanners. Then they created a custom titanium hip based on her exact specifications. In addition, stem cells were also used in the process, helping to regrow new bone around the implant to avoid a need for future surgeries.
This patient had been in pain for nearly 40 years after a car accident in 1977. Doctors have said many of her medical problems have been fixed, as the titanium used to make the hip is more durable than bone and meets her exact leg measurements. In addition, the bone graft material applied in the process is expected to fill a defect behind her bone well, fusing the appendage together.
Snoring is a thing of the past
A second medical breakthrough using the technology may help reduce or even eliminate a less pressing, though aggravating, health issue. A 3-D printed "duckbill" device has been said to prevent snoring almost entirely, also helping to reduce pauses in sleep that can pose dangerous health risks as patients age, The Health Site reported.
Australian researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization have created the mouthpiece out of titanium and medical-grade plastic. It's customized for each patient, extending from their mouths and dividing their breath into two separate airways. This makes it easier for air to flow through the back of the throat, avoiding obstructions from other facial areas.
The new device attaches to a patient's top teeth, resulting in only a small reduction of comfort. It also bypasses obstructions by using airways that deliver air to the back of the throat. It may reach the consumer market as soon as next year.
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