3D printing used at Washington’s Children’s National Medical Centre

3D printing used at Washington’s Children’s National Medical Centre

3D printing is considered to be the technology of the future. It all started a few years ago when a group of engineers realized that they could create a printer that would actually print a three-dimensional model of... well, anything. As time passed, these printers became more accessible to the public and now they are used to save lives. This is exactly what happened in Washington’s Children’ National Medical Centre where a team of doctors were able to save a pair of conjoined twins.

Tyson and Tyler were conjoined along the chest and abdomen and their separation seemed almost impossible. They shared not only major blood vessels, but also one liver. The twins’ hearts were surrounded by a common membrane, and any mistake could be fatal.

What did the doctors do? They printed a plastic model of the twins, with all the organs included. They could see where the organs were conjoined and how to separate them. Having a three dimensional model of the twins allowed the team to design a way of access. They finally separated the twins during an operation that lasted 12 hours. The best specialists from the country worked on this case and their efforts paid off.

Three years later, the twins are normal and healthy and they discover the world around them. What seemed like a hopeless case was a success.

The new 3D printers can work with different materials and they can create much more than plastic models. Doctors are now working on the printing of portal veins which could save millions of lives around the world. The printers are constantly used in surgeries to provide a better visualization of tumors and organs.

Technology allows us to do great things, and Tyson and Tyler are living proof.