Martin Heller , Heide-Katharina Bauer , Elisabeth Goetze , Matthias Gielisch , Klaus E Roth , Philipp Drees , Gerrit S Maier , Bernhard Dorweiler , Ahmed Ghazy , Meik Neufurth , Werner E G Müller , Heinz C Schröder , Xiaohong Wang , Christian-Friedrich Vahl , Bilal Al-Nawas
December 23 2016
Already three decades ago, the potential of medical 3D printing (3DP) or rapid prototyping for improved patient treatment began to be recognized. Since then, more and more medical indications in different surgical disciplines have been improved by using this new technique. Numerous examples have demonstrated the enormous benefit of 3DP in the medical care of patients by, for example, planning complex surgical interventions preoperatively, reducing implantation steps and anesthesia times, and helping with intraoperative orientation. At the beginning of every individual 3D model, patient-specific data on the basis of computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or ultrasound data is generated, which is then digitalized and processed using computer-aided design/computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) software. Finally, the resulting data sets are used to generate 3D-printed models or even implants. There are a variety of different application areas in the various medical fields, eg, drill or positioning templates, or surgical guides in maxillofacial surgery, or patient-specific implants in orthopedics. Furthermore, in vascular surgery it is possible to visualize pathologies such as aortic aneurysms so as to improve the planning of surgical treatment. Although rapid prototyping of individual models and implants is already applied very successfully in regenerative medicine, most of the materials used for 3DP are not yet suitable for implantation in the body. Therefore, it will be necessary in future to develop novel therapy approaches and design new materials in order to completely reconstruct natural tissue.