3D printing technology has changed the way many medical devices are designed and has huge potential to also disrupt healthcare by making devices more accessible, affordable, and personalized to the patient. While we’ve seen 3D-printed parts used in a variety of external limb prostheses and even for implants, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have utilized the technique to create custom-designed prosthetic replacements for damaged parts of the middle ear.
According to lead researcher and study author Dr. Jeffrey Hirsch, reconstructive surgery to treat hearing loss has a high failure rate, which is thought to be due in part to incorrect sizing of the prothetic ossicles that are implanted. 3D printing can allow for each prosthetic to be tailored to a patient’s unique middle ear anatomy.
As proof of concept, researchers removed ossicles from human cadavers and imaged them with CT. Using the scans, they created the prostheses and printed them with a UV-activated resin using a standard hobbyist 3D printer. Surgeons were then able to successfully match the 3D-printed ossicles with the correct cadaver’s ear.
The positive results suggest that CT has sufficient resolution to detect the small, but significant differences in the middle ear ossicles (CT is already being used by otolaryngologists to help predict the chance of success of a treatment), and the scans translate well into accurately printed representations. Not only could 3D-printed ear prostheses lead to higher success rates due to a proper fit, but could decrease surgical times and related costs as well.
Here’s an animation showing the auditory ossicles with 3-D printed prosthesis.:
Via the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA): 3-D-Printed Prosthetic Implants Could Improve Treatment for Hearing Loss…