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Three-dimensional printing: changing clinical care or just a passing fad?

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Purpose of review

Advances in medical imaging and three-dimensional (3D) reconstruction software have enabled a proliferation of 3D modeling and 3D printing for clinical applications. In particular, 3D printing has garnered an extraordinary media presence over the past few years. There is growing optimism that 3D printing can address patient specificity and complexity for improved interventional and surgical planning. Will this relatively untested technology bring about a paradigm shift in the clinical environment, or is it just a transient fad?

Recent findings

Case studies and series centered around 3D printing are omnipresent in clinical and engineering journals. These primarily qualitative studies support the potential efficacy of the emerging technology. Few studies analyze the value of 3D printing, weighing its potential benefits against increasing costs (e.g., institutional overhead, labor, and materials).Summary

Clinical integration of 3D printing is growing rapidly, and its adoption into clinical practice presents unique workflow challenges. There are numerous clinical trials on the horizon that will finally help to elucidate the measured impact of 3D printing on clinical outcomes through quantitative analyses of clinical and economic metrics. The contrived integration of 3D printing into clinical practice seems all but certain as the value of this technology becomes more and more evident.
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Keywords: 3D printing; additive manufacturing; anatomical modelling; congenital heart disease

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Phoenix Children's Hospital, Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2017

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