Surgeons at a north Queensland hospital are using a 3D printer to build life-size replicas of patients’ fractured bones.
Mackay Base Hospital is the first hospital in regional Queensland to incorporate 3D printing into patient treatment, after similar machines were introduced in Brisbane and Gold Coast hospitals.
Surgeons can input data from patient CT scans into the printer, which then takes 3-12 hours to build the bone model, depending on the size of the bone and the severity of the fracture.
While the replica is being printed, doctors can check in remotely via a webcam installed inside the machine to monitor the building progress.
Orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Davis holds a 3D printed pelvis bone inside Mackay Base Hospital’s first 3D printer. (ABC News: Sophie Meixner)
Orthopaedic surgeon Jonathan Davis said having the faithful replicas before surgery would allow doctors to make decisions they otherwise would have to make in the operating theatre.
“At the moment we have CT scans and X-rays which are all 2D and quite hard to visualise,” he said.
“A 3D structure, which is what you’re dealing with in life and then obviously when you’re in the operating theatre, there’s a lot of soft tissues in the way and you…