Customizing Patient Care with Rapid Prototyping

Instruments, implants, and more from 3D printing

Karthikeyan E. Ponnusamy, MD; Hani Haider, PhD; Paul A. Anderson, MD; Ahmad Nassr, MD; and Nicholas John Giori, MD

Additive manufacturing (three-dimensional [3D] printing) has many applications in orthopaedics, beyond its use in building models for preoperative planning and patient and resident education. For example, with the use of computer-aided design (CAD) software, 3D printing can be used to build custom instruments such as retractors and drill/saw guides. The process involves importing a surface model file of the anatomy or object in stereolithography (STL) format, based on processing an imaging (CT or MRI) dataset. The 3D CAD design of the surgical tool, instrument, or implant can be superimposed on the anatomy.

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