A VA medical center utilized cutting-edge 3D printing technology to empower a veteran facing a life-altering decision regarding tumor surgery. Faced with the prospect of dialysis for life, the former service member was hesitant about undergoing surgery to remove the tumor from his remaining kidney. To provide clarity and support, the VA surgeon employed a 3D printer to create a replica of the patient’s kidney, complete with the tumor. The lifelike model allowed the doctor to walk the veteran through the surgery step-by-step, enabling informed decision-making and precise surgical planning. By leveraging 3D printers, VA clinicians can enhance surgical planning, design custom assistive medical devices and prosthetic limbs, and envision a future where 3D printing might produce transplantable bones and organs. Dr. Beth Ripley, a VA Medical Center Puget Sound radiologist, emphasized how this technology brings healthcare providers closer to their patients, elevating the quality of care and patient outcomes.
Dr. Beth Ripley, a VA Medical Center Puget Sound radiologist and chair of the Veterans Health Administration’s 3D Printing Advisory Committee, expressed her enthusiasm for 3D printing as a “total game-changer.” She highlighted that technology often distances healthcare providers and patients, but 3D printing allows VA staff to come closer to their patients. The VA’s aggressive campaign to deploy 3D printers across its medical centers aims to improve patient care through various applications. These include aiding surgical planning, creating assistive medical devices, crafting prosthetic limbs, and developing bones and organs for transplantation.
This transformative technology empowers frontline staff to innovate at the bedside, providing personalized solutions for individual patients. The initiative’s goal is to harness the full potential of 3D printing to enhance patient outcomes and experiences, revolutionizing the landscape of healthcare for veterans and beyond. By leveraging the technology’s capabilities, the VA is paving the way for precision medicine and personalized care, ultimately improving the lives of its patients. The Veterans Health Administration (VA) is at the forefront of pioneering 3D printing technology for medical use, with over 100 printers deployed across 23 medical centers. Through this growing virtual network, the VA is revolutionizing patient care, surgical planning, and even advancing bioprinting efforts to create replacement tissues and organs. The VA’s collaboration with GE Healthcare and the VHA Innovation Ecosystem ensures a comprehensive approach to utilizing 3D printing technology for personalized patient care and creating innovative solutions to improve veterans’ lives.
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