Christchurch surgeons practice on 3D prints

There are many different 3D printing applications within the medical world and the first things that come to mind are 3D printed prosthetics and 3D printed living body parts – for example, ears – using bio-ink. These applications often relate to end-use: 3D parts that are meant to be transplanted into the patient.

pink 3d printed ear in petri dish
surgeons practicing on 3d printed model at christchurch hospital

Increased efficiency in the operating theatre

Surgeons at Christchurch Hospital, however, use the 3D printer to create replicas of surgical sites of their patients. They use these 3D replicas to study, familiarise and simulate a practice run before the real surgery happens.

By doing so, they manage to cut down time spent in the operation theatre. Not only that, the recovery time for their patients are reduced, too.

Removing tumour from jaw bone

18 year old Hayden Shanks required a major surgery to remove two tumours found in his jawbone, this involves removing part of his jawbone and reconstructing it with bone taken from his leg.

Preparation work begins with bioengineers CADing up a 3D model of the body part, using a patient’s scan. The model is then 3D printed to scale and in no time, surgeons can study with the finished part and figure out what needs to be done leading up to and during surgery.

3d model of patient's jaw

Printing Hayden's "jaw" on the UP Plus 2

Everything is done internally within the hospital, with surgeons requesting 3D printed parts from bioengineers and having the part ready to print with on demand.

After printing it on the UP Plus 2, surgeon Jason Eramus was then able to take this model and provide a simple demonstration of what the surgery entails during his consultation with Hayden.

“It makes it a lot easier; it makes it a lot quicker, so we probably cut down our operating time by about two and a half hours. There’s just no mucking around – it’s very precise.”

Jason Eramus from Christchurch Hospital.

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