3D Printers and Bone Grafting
There is exciting news in bone grafting technology that will hopefully find its way into the oral surgeon’s office over the next decade! Researchers have been able to create a synthetic bone material using 3D printers that may be better than what is being used now.
3D printers create three-dimensional objects out of a variety of materials using a computer as a precise guide. Although the concept has been in the news a lot recently, the practice actually dates back to before the 21st century. In fact, 3d printing’s roots go back to the early 1980s. Since then, everything from jewelry to synthetic human organs has been printed, much to the amazement of modern society!
And now, surgeons have successfully implanted the 3D-printed synthetic bone grafting material into animals with bone defects. This “hyperelastic bone” was made using just the right combination of bioactive materials and polymers to make a material that could be layered while still wet, allowing for better adherence between layers.
Here are some of the expected benefits of this new material:
- Very elastic, allowing for cutting without crumbling, which can be a problem with current grafting materials.
- Blood vessels move in quickly because the material is porous.
- Biodegradable as the body replaces it with genuine tissue.
- Doesn’t dry out right away.
- So far the animals haven’t rejected the implant, which could mean less complications for humans as well.
- Could be a great option for children since it will grow with them.
While human trials are potentially five or more years away, the news is very exciting for the surgical community, and we are can’t wait to see what benefits this will bring to our patients.
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