A trainee surgeon in the UK has developed a program that will save his hospital thousands of dollars – and potentially many lives as well – by 3D printing bones. Traditionally, bone models were not made for most patients’ cases because they cost the hospital thousands of dollars and take many weeks to complete. The new 3D printed models run around $150, take just a week to complete and ship and can help surgeons prepare for complex operations before their patients are even brought into the operating room.

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Mark Frame, the trainee surgeon with the big idea, found the Netherlands-based company that has the capability of turning CT scans into real-to-life bone models for surgeons to use. The models are printed and sent to doctors who then use them to prepare for operations that may be more complex than the surgeon expected. These models can help surgeons be fully prepared for what meets them once surgery starts and have recently been used in complex hip operations, like the one completed on 79 year-old Myra Hair.

The surgeon that completed Mrs. Hair’s operation, Dr. Aman Khan told the BBC, “A model used to cost more or less the same as the surgery itself and therefore it often wasn’t an option. We couldn’t justify that kind of cost for a procedure which is already very expensive.” Mrs. Hair’s hip operation was complex – one of the most difficult Dr. Khan had ever performed – but thanks to the 3D printed model of her hip bone it went flawlessly. Scientists around the world have already 3D printed human veins and are working on more complex organs. Perhaps in no time at all, instead of making you a bone model, they’ll just print you out a whole new skeleton.

Via The BBC