Modern medicine is rife with applications of 3D printing technologies. California-based Spinal Elements have developed a method for custom 3D printed surgical aids, and making pins out of medical grade PEKK and metals such as titanium is now commonplace within fracture surgery.
With 3D printing technologies being promoted by companies and specific research in development, it’s not often that we get to hear from those independent clinicians using the technology daily in operating theatres. And so, 3DPI decided to get in touch with Dr. Bruno Gobbato – an orthopaedic surgeon using 3D printing to develop his practice in Brazil, he says:
There is no doubt that 3DPrinted special materials like bone substitutes or even biological bone is the future […] hydroxyapatite (a mineral form of calcium) is [already] a well-known bone-substitute [that has been] used for decades
About the surgeon
Dr. Gobbato is a specialist in the anatomy of shoulders and elbows. He first came across 3D printing in a YouTube video showing how 3D printed guides and models were used in to forearm correction surgery. After this he decided to print bones and was inspired to find how a hands-on approach to the structures outstripped his traditional study from 2D and 3D images.
Dr. Gobbato demonstrates how he practices connecting trauma fractures with metal plates on 3D printed bones. Clip via: ombroecotovelo on Youtube
Since then, Dr. Gobbato has become a 3D printing enthusiast, collaborating with 3D file hosting websites to develop their collections of anatomical models.
His most comprehensive collection, of over 350 orthopaedics models, can be found on Sketchfab.
Additionally, Dr. Gobbato has a Youtube channel of videos showing walkthrough of his digital models, and how the 3D printed versions fit together as a rehearsal for surgery.
3D printing for the 3rd World
In Brazil, Dr. Gobbato tells us that trauma injuries, such as those received in a car crash, are the second most common cause of death. And so, an ability to create an accurate model of such unique fractures can be crucial to a patient’s survival. This is the kind of service Dr. Gobbato relies on day-to-day, he says ‘Huge companies charge a lot for this kind of service. Other companies have this technology for high-end prothesis, which in 3rd-World countries is impossible to work with,’ adding that:
My work is to share the knowledge [to] can create high-end surgeries using every material in every hospital in the world. [I want to show how] with a 300-dollar desktop printer and free-software we can plan, study and execute a masterpiece surgery using 3DPrinting.
The result of Dr. Gobbato’s love for the technology is inspiring, and we hope to hear more from him and other specialists adopting 3D printing in their work soon. Be sure to send us an email here if you have anything you’d like to share.
Featured image shows a 3Dprinted scoliosis spine. Photo by: Dr. Bruno Gobbato via Twitter (@bgobbato1981)