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3D printed medical implants are an advancement in 3D printing that's turning the medical world on its ear. And while there's no pun intended there (considering external bodily organs are also being printed), the advent of placing 3D-printed devices in the body is here and evolving quickly. Even if the FDA is planning to take more careful measures on testing 3D-printed medical devices, what can 3D-printed implants do to help our health in the future?
It turns out that one new device holds some promise that could potentially revolutionize how people get treated for illness in the future.
An Implant That Determines Cardiac Issues
Reported on Futurity.com and through studies at Washington University in St. Louis, a new implant has been created on a 3D printer that can attach to the human heart. Made out of an elastic membrane, it's a real advancement from 2D implants before. This one can be shaped to wrap around the outer layer of the heart's wall. With sensors attached, doctors are alerted when a coronary event might be soon occurring.
It's just one amazing example of how 3D printing is creating implants that can help monitor future health problems. But the above heart implant goes beyond just alerting doctors to possible heart issues. It's also designed to a point where it's used for immediate treatment when necessary. One of the most notable is sending a pulse of electricity when a patient suffers from arrhythmia issues.
Most of all, these implants are so sensitive that they can pick up subtle signs of various problems. Will it go beyond the human heart as 3D printers continue to create more implants in the future?
The Implications for 3D-Printed Implants in Health
With the potential of other implants perhaps attaching to our inner organs, could we be looking at a new way to determine all health problems before they happen? It's an exciting concept that could help save millions of lives as early devices already have. With the current ability to detect such subtle things like the protein troponin (a sign of impending heart attacks), the capability is there to detect developing issues in other internal organs like the kidneys.
Could it eventually detect things like cancer down the road? That hasn't happened yet, though the above reports say this is only the beginning in what these 3D-printed implants can do. Along with the ability to give instant treatment, it's just another entry in the long list of what 3D printing is doing to change the world. Many of those things may have been unexpected, giving proof to how much of a leap forward 3D printing is to the betterment of life.