Mar 16, 2017 | By David

Industry veteran Materialise will be making another major 3D printing breakthrough soon, as it has recently received approval from the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to produce surgical guides for pediatric care using 3D technology. The guides will be used to help orthopaedic surgeons plan for osteotomy operations. Children with bone injuries or natural deformities will soon be receiving much better treatment, thanks to the improvements that these 3D printed surgical guides will bring to the pre-operative planning process.

Materialise has been providing  3D printing solutions for a great variety of different industries since the technology was first developed, over 25 years ago. Its work in the healthcare sector has had particular success.  Over the past nine years, more than a thousand adult osteotomy patients around the world have been treated with the help of Materialise’s 3D printed surgical guides, and now the scope of applications for its expertise can expand even further. This new clearance from the FDA will allow orthopaedic surgeons to use 3D printed guides to plan operations for patients as young as 7 years old.

Up until now, planning for pediatric osteotomy surgery was always carried out using 2D x-ray images and hand-drawn surgical guides. A osteotomy patient has irregularities in their ulna or radius, which can be caused by trauma or natural defects, and this prevents them from using their arms properly. The affected area can be difficult for a surgeon to visualize, complicating the already challenging surgical correction procedure, and the success of the operation isn’t always guaranteed. Uncertainties with the freehand model for pre-operative planning meant that as many as 60 percent of osteotomies didn’t achieve the desired results, and the patient continued to suffer, sometimes even more due to surgical complications.

With the help of Materialise’s 3D printed surgical guides, uncertainties will be kept to an absolute minimum, and the operation will have a much greater chance of success. The orthopaedic surgeon collaborates in the production of the guide, which is designed specifically to fit the bones of the child. A detailed virtual 3D model is created, by uploading radiographic data into Materialise’s advanced Mimics software, and this is used to print the surgical guide, giving the surgeon a much clearer picture of the area he will be operating  on. These patient-specific guides are also produced at a relatively low cost.

Bryan Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager of Materialise North America, is excited about the improvements his company will be able to bring to children’s lives, thanks to the FDA’s new clearance. “In bringing this 3D printing technology to pediatric surgery, surgeons will have access to our clinical engineers’ wealth of experience developing osteotomy guides,’’ he says, ‘’helping them perform even the most complex bone corrections that will have a positive impact on the rest of the child’s life.”

A particularly complex case in the UK was tackled effectively with the help of Materialise. A patient who underwent routine wrist surgery ended up in a worse state, needing extra surgery to alleviate pain after complications with the operation. A 3D scan of both the healthy and the fractured wrist was made, and a 3D printed guide allowed the surgeon to see the optimal cuts that could be made. The follow-up operation went ahead with great success. Young patients all across America now have the same opportunity to benefit from what Materialise has to offer, regardless of how common or unique their particular problem might be. This is a testament to the power of 3D printing technology, and it’s encouraging to think of the number of children whose everyday lives will be made more normal and more comfortable in the future.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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