Here's how 3D printing is revolutionising healthcare
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Here’s how 3D printing is revolutionising healthcare

Here’s how 3D printing is revolutionising healthcare

With patient specific 3D solutions, clinicians can plan personalised treatment, with access to a 3D visualisation of an individual’s anatomy

Divsha Bhat

Tell us about your company, its solutions and services.
Axial3D was founded in 2015 and is headquartered in Belfast, Northern Ireland. We’re a medical technology company and have developed patient specific 3D solutions that support surgeons and radiologists in improving outcomes and transforming lives.

We developed a cloud-based software solution that converts 2D medical scans into precise, patient specific 3D files which can either be viewed online or 3D printed. We create 3D visuals and printable files within hours, and we can ship precise physical models to healthcare practitioners in a few days. With our services based wholly on the cloud, our software is accessible anywhere in the world, and doesn’t require any installation or upfront costs.

Using 3D printing, how are you creating a customised health experience for patients? 
Through our patient specific 3D solutions, clinicians can plan personalised treatment for their patients, with access to a 3D visualisation of an individual’s unique anatomy. Unfortunately, 2D images alone often do not give enough insight for physicians to confidently plan a surgical procedure. In turn, that can lead to longer operating times, higher costs to the healthcare provider, and most importantly, heightened risk to the patient.

Our anatomical 3D visualisations and printed models transform the pre-operative planning process allowing physicians to accelerate their understanding of a patient’s condition before surgery, and make decisions with greater confidence and enhance their communication with their surgical team. They can plan their surgical procedure in detail, pre-selecting the necessary equipment, and even practice the approach before the surgery using the 3D printed model. What’s more, patients and families can understand the nature of surgery that is going to be carried out, with less time for patients in the operating theatre and a faster recovery time for the patient.

Some hospitals can create 3D visualisation models currently, but the process is not scalable and is time and labour intensive, often restricting the type and amount of surgeries that these visualisations can be used for.

Our services allow clinicians to easily upload a 2D medical scan to our secure, online platform, which can be automatically segmented and validated by our engineers. The creation of 3D visuals and printable files takes a matter of minutes, ensuring that doctors can receive expert guidance at a far faster rate.

Can you share some successful examples where you used this technology in patient care?
There are a diversity of successful cases which we have supported. One example was of a woman in her mid-sixties who had to have a shoulder operation. The 2D scans were unclear for her surgeon to be able to confidently plan a procedure, due to an implant which the woman already had in her shoulder. Using a range of CT scans, we created a 3D model of the woman’s shoulder, allowing her surgeon to precisely understand the nature of the surgery which was required. Operating time was reduced by approximately 60 minutes, and the amount of surgical equipment equally dropped, saving around $1,000 in sterilisation costs.

Another example comes from a woman in her mid-forties who required a replacement of a pulmonary valve in her heart. Needless to say, this was a very complex procedure. A 3D model was produced to support the surgical team in understanding the unique anatomy of their patient.

The model allowed the surgical teams to precisely plan the surgery, alongside discussing with the patient the exact surgical objectives. The surgery was a success, with the model helping to reduce surgery time by over 120 minutes, which aids in the patients’ recovery time significantly.

What are your goals and objectives for the year ahead?
Our vision is to make patient-specific care routine. With affordable pricing and a fast turnaround time, we will continue to work to provide visualisations and get 3D printed models into the hands of as many surgeons as we can. In doing so, we are supporting surgeons in improving patient lives – including for doctors working in the Middle East.

Roger Johnston is the chief executive officer at Axial3D

Read: How 3D printing is transforming the manufacturing industry

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