The medical world has come a long way from using leeches to cleanse the blood a few centuries ago. Of course there is much work left to be done. Yet today, we are already on the cusp of a 3D medical world that is providing doctors and nurses with more powerful insight and capabilities than even a couple of years ago. Read on to learn about a few astounding examples that prove how the 3D medical world is taking shape today: [no_toc]
3D Printing Phenomenon
As of late, there has been plenty of buzz about doctors using 3D printing technology to print skin and even organs in the future. Today, 3D printing also finds a use in hospitals as a tool that can be used to make models of body systems for study. There are even instances where 3D technology has been used in life-saving fashion to print custom splints for a patient that was measured using 3D imaging. The splints have been used to hold a weakened airway open until it was able to strengthen on its own.
3D Imaging on a Chip
With advances in chip technology, it has become easier to imagine a world where devices are smaller, and remain at least as powerful as devices are today. One area where that is coming to life is in 3D imaging using ultrasound. Within the next year, one entrepreneur’s smartphone size ultrasound device is scheduled to go on sale. Although the project is shrouded in secrecy for obvious reasons, the cost of an ultrasound machine that can “diagnose cancer or observe a fetus” is projected to be only a few hundred dollars. This will give nurses and technicians the amazing ability to review 3D ultrasound imaging—resulting in more precise diagnosis and observation.
3D Visual Modeling
Within the medical world, developing new compounds and cures is a time consuming, complex business. One of the latest tools in the arsenal that can be used for education of colleagues operates somewhat like a 3D Visio program. It allows researchers to make a 3D presentation that utilizes a 3D model library that can be customized to create models of the compound or drug that they are trying to manufacture. With regulatory costs at an all-time high, it also saves these companies time during clinical trials.
According to professionals at Microscope.com, one of the problems with making an accurate diagnosis using fairly non-invasive techniques to this point has been the inability of the industry to create a high resolution camera that will provide doctors with enough information to make a completely informed decision. Fortunately, a recent discovery by researchers has already been replicated and is well on its way to the medical industry. In essence, the research team created a way to make 3D images of cells under study on an ultra-thin probe. The enhanced images will give doctors the ability to better see cell structure and check for signs of disease well before they would have been able to in the past.
In the medical world, cancer diagnosis also continues to become more state of the art. With the FDA’s approval of the world’s first 3D breast scanner, a new machine came on the market that will allow women concerned about breast cancer the ability to have their breasts scanned without any ‘compression of tissue’. The breakthrough is that with a full 3D view of a breast, nurses and doctors should be able to view lumps or any other signs of cancer much more effectively than they have been able to in the past. Can similar 3D scanners for other areas of the body be too far behind?
The past few years have seen 3D technology take its rightful place as an important partner to nurses, physicians, technicians and hospitals everywhere. The trend should continue over the next decade, and only time will show the true potential of 3D power in the medical world.