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3D printing and other forms of rapid prototyping technology were developed decades ago. This is an incredible field of computer assisted manufacturing, which represents a transformative impact on countless industries including healthcare.
There are several limitations which have impeded adoption of prototyping technology into commonplace medical and surgical practice: namely cost, technical challenge, and availability. When surgeons of the Podiatry Institute sought to improve preoperative planning for complex multiplane deformities of the lower extremity, the hackerspace collective known as "Freeside Atlanta" offered to collaborate.
By this, anonymized computed tomography data was acquired of the patients anatomy. Viewing of this data was made possible with an open source application called Osirix image viewer. This powerful software enabled surgeons to appreciate the specific nature of the deformity, while planning incision placement and dissection pathways in order to protect and avoid the vital neurovascular structures, seen here.
This reconstructed data was able to be exported for further utility, within a variety of CAM software applications. This enabled boolean operations and test simulations to be rendered in order to simulate the optimal geometric resection and reconstructive correction needed for the patient. With the ability to view and simulate real-time corrective operations, surgeons were able to test several operative scenarios with "undo" functionality.
Next, this data was post-processed to reconstruct a three dimensional stereolithography data of the foot. Freesiders have further refined this process to become highly compatible with open source printing recipes and hacked hardware modifications to existing prototyping. At Freeside, several printing modalities were tested and the final production templates were manufactured with a modified ZCORP 400 series.
This hardware was modified to permit inexpensive gypsum powder and alcohol based binder to be utilized for additive manufacturing. This provided an inexpensive, yet sturdy, replica of the patient's anatomy for pre-operative preparation.
These printed anatomic templates were then used, as sawbones, in the cadaver lab. By this, scale prints of the patient's anatomy were used for practicing surgical approach and collaboration, prior to surgery. Also, the chosen external fixation construct was assembled to fit this model, in a post reduction configuration.
Through collaboration between surgeons and the hackerspace known as Freeside Atlanta, patient care was significantly increased in safety and quality. Intraopertive surgical time was decreased. The details of this effort are published in the Journal of Foot and Ankle Surgery, in May 2012
Music: "Zombie Nation" (by Jose Travieso) @ http://freemusicarchive.org...
Narration: Caroline Murphy
Producer: Nicholas Giovinco