New technology unearths itself continually in the healthcare market, but the biggest addition in the past few years has been the rise of the 3-D printer. Doctors continually find new innovations that the printing allows, creating everything from splints and casts to entire organs and body parts.
Many uses means increased adoption
According to InformationWeek, 3-D printing is only set to continue growing. The market is expected to expand to more than $4 billion by 2018, with the technology involved helping doctors cut costs and find new ways to treat patients. One such improvement is in surgery, which can cost up to $100 per minute depending on the patient and aliment. Not only does having inexpensive equipment on hand immediately cut down these costs, but 3-D printed medical implants can reduce the risks of anesthesia during longer surgeries.
The customization that 3-D printing allows doctors is another benefit to its use. Whatever is required for a patient can be custom-printed not just for their specific size, but also to any regulation their health would need. For children, especially, the technology is highly applicable. In the event that a child outgrows a 3-D printed part, another one that fits their current body size would be able to be made in mere minutes.
The technology is also being used to create new body parts and organs as well. While 3-D bioprinting won't hit the market for the next year or so, replacement hearts and other organs can be made for a specific patient. Skin grafts will also be offered within the next decade.
Heart saves boy's life
The technology can even save lives. According to Forbes, doctors at Louisville's Kosair Children's Hospital were able to print a 3-D model of a 14-month-old child's heart, which was used to combat defects that threatened his life. In less than a day, the surgeons assigned to the boy's case were able to make a full replica of the heart, which gave them an opportunity to see the problems and create strategies that eventually saved the child's life.
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