Application of 3D technology is important in hospital traumatology

The use of 3D printing technology to plan and facilitate the treatment of complex fractures, bone tumors or arthritis is thanks to the work and research carried out by José Luis Muñoz Sánchez at the Ciudad Real General University Hospital. Specialist in Orthopedic Surgery and Traumatology of the Castilla-La Mancha Health Service.

Just before the pandemic began, Muñoz received one of the research grants awarded by Ciudad Real's Integrated Care Management with a project on 3D printing models for planning and treating complex fractures, and he completed his doctoral thesis.

“What we do is reproduce the actual size of the bone in plastic material, biopolymer, polylactic acid (PLA) or similar, to plan the surgery. We can design it beforehand or in the operating room and completely adapt it to the patient's needs,” explained the doctor.

Application of 3D technology is important in hospital traumatology – Photo: L.D

The process begins with X-rays and CT scans that allow the computer system and parameters to be transferred to the 3D printer. In this way, an exact copy is made of the patient's fractures, which are usually articular and complex, and it is decided whether an artificial bone should be implanted or whether the bone should be integrated using plates and screws to connect the fragments.

Three-dimensional reconstructions are used for bony tumor lesions, “to give you an accurate idea of ​​the size that needs to be resected, or when the ends of a fracture don't completely unite, or for osteoarthritis or pseudarthrosis,” or to plan surgeries on small bones in the wrist or hand, Dr. Munoz's specialty.

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“You need to measure the bone size correctly so that the screw is not too long and does not interfere with movement,” this expert pointed out.

According to José Luis Muñoz, one of the most recent examples of the use of 3D printing technology at the Ciudad Real General University Hospital is an intervention to fit an elbow prosthesis to a patient with a fracture.

First, a 3D reproduction of the bone structure was made to determine whether the fragments were susceptible to reconstruction with plates and screws or were too small to integrate.

In this situation, Dr. The traumatology and orthopedic surgery service directed by Pedro Zorilla said, “The best option is a specially adapted prosthesis based on a 3D copy of the patient's joint. The intervention to implant it was very good. The pain disappeared,” he said.

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