The Future of 3-D Printing in Cardiology
A few years ago, 3-D printing exploded as a fascinating new advent with thousands of possible uses. If you haven’t heard of 3-D printing, it’s exactly what it sounds like. A programmed computer guides a machine into “printing” three-dimensional objects out of plastic or other fusible materials. The idea is to implement this technology around the world and quickly produce supplies for people with limited access to resources. 3-D printing is an environmental win as well, often using recyclable plastic to create a sustainable model. As you can imagine, bringing 3-D modeling to the medical field was a priority. As of March 2018, the first clinically validated stethoscope became widely available and approved for use.
An Exciting New Discovery
Researchers are thrilled about the possibilities this introduces to the cardiovascular field. They estimate that these stethoscopes take only 3 hours and 3 dollars to print. The quality of the product even stands up in comparison to premium brand stethoscopes used in hospitals today. The 3-D printed stethoscope known as the “Glia” model is already backed by medical professionals in Gaza, where something so simple can go a long way. Stethoscopes can save lives, even when just used as an alternative to more advanced devices and technology found in centers with better funding. Bringing resources to people all over the world is no doubt a universal goal. While it’s difficult to pinpoint how quickly this technology will spread, the advent of three dimensional printing is an exciting step in cardiology.
But 3-D printing is making an appearance in cardiology in other ways too. Some cardiovascular hospitals are using 3-D printing to model anatomy for sizing devices. Creating anatomical models customized to an individual allows preliminary hands-on planning for complicated procedures. Measures like this have the potential to improve safety and efficacy when it comes time to operate. Even further, “bioprinting” organs is another fascinating prospect for the future of 3-D printing. The demand for donated organs is often too high for hospitals to compete with. Engineering a material compatible with the human body could allow us to make 3-D heart valves and other organs as well as tissue.
A Pricey Investment
While 3-D printing is a groundbreaking opportunity to make a difference to the cardiovascular community on a local level, there are some drawbacks to consider on the outset. For example, 3-D printing is no doubt an expensive investment initially. Even then, there will be pricey maintenance costs to keep the machine running correctly. Some have suggested that a partnership between advanced imaging companies and 3-D printing venues could allow hospitals to contract their needs off-site, greatly reducing their expense. In future years, this could very well become a regular part of medical practice. Ultimately, though, the greatest solution to heart disease is prevention. Getting the word out about ways you can prevent heart disease is essential.
Trusted medical professionals can help guide you through heart healthy lifestyle choices that will reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease in the future. Regular checkups combined with exercise, stress relief, and a balanced diet are some ways you can get on the right track. If you’re interested in making an appointment, visit our website at https://www.cvgcares.com/.