The notion of 3d printed body parts seem like a high tech futuristic commodity, but scientists already have successfully completed some of these incredible medical breakthroughs. What can we do with 3D body parts? Listen to this Question Your World radio report produced by the Science Museum of Virginia to find out.
For example in 2014 Dutch scientists were able to 3D print a skull for a woman that had a rare medical disorder. Her skull was growing in a way that was pressing up on her brain, causing her to loose sight among other important life functions. Doctors 3D printed a skull for her and after a 23 hour surgery gave each other a thumbs up.
So, how successful was this? They did pretty good work, actually. Currently, she’s working and living like a normal person and by looking at her you can’t even tell that she has undergone this process.
Similarly cartilage and structures like ears and noses have been successfully grown on living organisms in labs awaiting transplants, like rats and mice. Bladders have been 3D printed using special bio-ink and succesfully put into a human.
The future for this technology is beyond impressive and is being looked at with a lot of urgency. Right now thousands of people die every year as they wait for an organ transplants for things like kidneys or hearts.
The next challenge will be how to get these 3D printed organs to the patients quickly. This will obviously require 3D printed organ carriers that can really de-liver!