3D scanning has created a thriving market for themselves by optimizing critical operations in numerous industrial sectors, including healthcare. In the medical sphere, 3D technologies have advanced so much that we are now closer than ever to achieving things that seemed impossible a few years ago.
The internet is full of resources on the role of 3D printing in the medical sector. From bioprinting human organs to creating advanced surgical equipment, 3D printing continues to play a vital role in this sector. However, we often overlook 3d scanning, another key technology that is equally important and effective for healthcare applications.
Advantages of Using 3D Scanning in Healthcare
In a few years, 3D scanning has changed numerous processes and operations in the healthcare sector. The technology allows doctors to improve their diagnostic capabilities and devise better ways to treat their patients through customized solutions.
The following are some benefits of using 3D scanning in the medical sector.
1 – Safer Procedures
Traditional diagnostic technologies like X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs come with different risks and side-effects due to radiations and magnetic fields. Toddlers and newborns with developing bodies are at a greater risk of being affected, and doctors do not recommend exposing them to these tests unless it’s necessary.
Human bodies are complex, and numerous conditions require aggressive treatments. In many instances, doctors need to subject their patients to painful diagnostic procedures to figure out the issue. 3D scanning has now replaced numerous traditional tests as the process is risk-free and safe to use for toddlers as well.
2 – Faster and Accurate Diagnosis
3D scanning uses computing power to make the necessary calculations and delivers results in a few seconds. When it comes to saving a life, every second is critical. Medical scanners like the MARS can potentially scan through people and check for internal damages with great accuracy. Faster diagnosis means faster treatment, which in some cases can make all the difference for critical patients.
3 – Portability and Convenience
It is often unadvisable to move some patients as their bodies might be unable to sustain the stress, or they might get exposed to something dangerous. The ongoing pandemic has further stressed the need for curbing unnecessary hospital visits as certain population groups are more vulnerable to the virus.
3D scanning can make it easier for both patients and healthcare workers to conduct the necessary tests anywhere. All you need is a laptop and a handheld scanner to get started. This portability is often underrated in medical applications but has proven to be a gamechanger for medical workers around the world.
4 – Customization
The customization 3D technologies offer is the biggest advantage for medical applications. Not all human bodies are the same and 3D scanning can help healthcare providers introduce unique solutions according to the situation. The customization aspect is more well-known for its applications in ortho treatments, prosthetics, and other assistive applications. The traditional ways are both inconvenient and sometimes impractical for patients. 3D technologies have a successful track record of creating better and more practical solutions at a lower cost.
5 – Compatibility With Other Medical Technologies
Another excellent factor behind 3D scanning’s popularity is its compatibility with the existing procedures and technologies in the medical field. Rather than striving to perform the same tasks first and then improving, 3D scanning applications are building on the existing foundation. From MRIs to X-rays and bioimaging, 3D scanning is improving diagnostic and treatment capabilities by augmenting the available equipment.
When combined with 3D printing and other modern technologies, 3D scanning can create a huge difference in the medical field. There are numerous modern tools and other products like prosthetic limbs and surgical implants in the market that were either impossible to make or could not reach the mass market without 3D technologies.
Prominent Medical Applications of 3D Scanning in Healthcare
No other field can claim to require innovation more than healthcare. There are numerous areas where we are severely lacking or need to accept some sort of compromises to preserve life. Covid-19 has reiterated how important innovation and efficiency is for the medical industry and how there is always room for improvement when it comes to healthcare.
This is one of the reasons why the medical sector is the fastest to embrace emerging technologies. Today, 3D scanning plays a vital role in many medical applications across the world, and we’ll be discussing some of them in the next sections.
3D scanning and printing have completely changed the prosthetic industry. People who lost their limbs due to accidents or any other medical reason used to go through a long and excruciating process to get a prosthetic replacement. 3D technologies have significantly shortened this time. The scanning technology allows manufacturers to develop custom made solutions that are a perfect fit for the user’s extremities – the part where the prosthetic gets attached.
Plaster casts and braces and quite common in the medical industry. People either develop different conditions with time or lose their mobility after an accident. In any case, traditional methods often fall short and can’t cope with the customized patient needs.
Apart from prosthetics, 3D scanning also plays an important role in improving other orthopedic products. The accuracy of this technology allows doctors to use 3D scanning in surgical procedures as well. Numerous companies are working on custom-made bones, ribcages, and other solutions that are surgically implanted in the patients needing them due to accident or any other complications.
One business, in particular, is using 3D scanning and 3D printing to replace deteriorating bones. They are using a specialized bone implant that fuses with your skeleton and disappears in a few years. Click here to read more about it.
Another area where 3D scanning has been used extensively is plastic surgeries. Patients wish to weigh their options and know more about their look after the surgery. Usually, surgeons use realistic face masks to show the expected results after the surgery. With 3D scanning, the process can be shortened from a few days to a few hours. The scanners can catch all the details of the patient’s face in one go, which can then be changed on a computer and printed for the patient’s.
Having a perfect smile is crucial for many of us. Many people spend small fortunes and go through numerous procedures to get that winning smile. In the United States alone, more than 3 million people have some sort of dental implant and the number continues to grow every year. Dental implants are for life and dentists must make sure they are a perfect fit.
3D scanning has turned into a necessary technology for dentists worldwide. The technology allows dentists to capture every detail they want in only a few seconds and implement the best solutions with the help of CAD and 3D printing.
In 2018, an Australian woman lost the majority of her jaw to cancer. Ordinary tasks like eating, drinking, and talking were excruciating for her and she could not use traditional measures like complete dentures to fix this issue. The obvious disfigurement on her face shattered her confidence and affected her social life.
Fortunately, she did not have to stay in pain for long. Her doctors used 3D scanning to replicate her jaw and study it to come up with a long-lasting and effective solution. That’s not all! The custom jaw and teeth that doctors designed for her were also 3D printed.
Custom Mobility Aids and Other Equipment
Wheelchairs, mattresses, and other ergonomic mobility equipment have a lot of demand internationally. 3D scanning and 3D printing have been helping manufacturers improve their output and meet the changing expectations of their customers.
There are numerous businesses worldwide that use 3D scanning technology to deliver personalized medical equipment to ensure maximum comfort for the patient. For example, Kersten, a Dutch medical equipment manufacturer, uses 3D scanning to make custom ergonomic cushions for their wheelchairs. Check out their website to learn how!
3D scanning has been a useful tool for universities and educators to train doctors as it allows them to perfectly replicate complex body parts. Many practicing doctors also use this technology to conduct a detailed study of complex patients and try out possible solutions. This allows them to make sure that a solution works perfectly without creating complications for the patients.
The Future of 3D Scanning in Healthcare
3D technologies are gaining popularity every day and you can expect this trend to stay the same. Countless hospitals, universities, and research institutes are working on innovating the technology and coming up with better and more effective procedures. Soon, 3D scanners will be integrated with all kinds of major diagnostic equipment used in hospitals worldwide.
The potential of 3D scanning is immeasurable as the technology is safe, accurate, and gives immediate results. When we consider all of its advantages, the possibilities for the future seem endless.