Of the many fields that have benefited from the rise of additive manufacturing (AM), the one that has most quickly turned the technology to the direct benefit of people is the medical field. 3D printed prosthetics are better fits and less expensive, and companies like Organovo are on the brink of offering bioprinted human tissue useful for medical experiments.
ConforMIS, a company specializing in knee replacements, has joined the field of medical AM with its iFit technology. The company uses CT scan data to produce CAD designs allowing doctors to manufacture individualized knee replacements for each patient. Custom implants make for a better fit, which allow doctors to reduce the amount of healthy tissue removed during surgery, and reduces pain following recovery.
From ConforMIS’ website:
Our proprietary algorithms convert the imaging data into a 3D representation of the patient’s knee. For our resurfacing implants, this imaging data also includes partial scans of the hip and ankle to enable the algorithms to digitally recreate the biomechanical axis using long views of the leg.
Along with providing knee replacement implants, ConforMIS also uses AM to produce some of the tools required for surgery. Tools that are specific to an individual patient are produced, sterilized, and shipped off to surgeons. By providing one-use patient-specific tools, the company helps health providers save money on each surgery performed. Better tools also make the process simpler for surgeons, resulting in reduced surgical time.
ConforMIS might be the first company to offer this sort of solution to patients with orthopedic diseases, but it’s unlikely to be the last. With an aging population, the demand for better solutions to knee replacements is only going to grow, and doctors who offer the best product will gravitate toward 3D printing for the advantages it offers in creating individualized implants.
Below you’ll find a video about ConforMIS.