So this is very interesting for the surgeons. Another application: this is exactly what we did on this one. This is a skull printed from a patient who has suffered from a bike accident. No helmet. Think about this. The solution, as you can see, is that it is highly complex to produce an implant that is patient-specific. With this technology, 3D printing enables – actually this is a PEEK implant – to provide a solution that is patient-specific and that fits perfectly.
Another thing is that 3D printing is actually saving lives. For this case study, this was done in Michigan on this little boy, 20 months old. His problem was his bronchus. He suffered from a rare disease. His bronchus wouldn’t stop collapsing. Basically, he couldn’t breath. This was happening again and again. Doctors actually thought he wouldn’t come out of the hospital.
What 3D printing could do for this little boy was to provide an implant that matches exactly the anatomy of this bronchus. It’s a splint that has been produced in a biodegradable material. This implant was put on the patient, on this little baby here, and will disappear progressively in time, saving the life of this baby. This is where we’re heading for. We can print today with metals, ceramics, polymers, biodegradable materials.
3D printing technology, it is a tool, a powerful tool. It enables surgeons to rehearse, to pick the correct instruments, the correct way and procedure to operate on the patient, save lives, bring a solution when there is no other solution. But it can go a bit further. Currently, researchers are working on bio-printing, as it’s called, or organ printing. The idea is to use the patient’s own stem cells, to combine them with growth factors, and construct them, for example, on a biodegradable polymeric scaffold in order to recreate organs.
One of the first pictures I showed before, is this idea: progressively introducing bio printing and organ printing for the medical practice. This is good news for big smokers or heavy drinkers. They could endlessly drink and smoke, do both together, without thinking about the consequences, and live on and on for 200 years. Is this the idea we want to promote about technology and the medical practice? Or shall we use it for specific cases such as the case of the little baby? When, where, with what technology and what materials? The real question with this technology especially, would be actually how far can we go? Thank you.