3D printing technology transforms physician into artist
When Dr. Frank Rybicki, Professor and Chair of Radiology at the University of Ottawa and radiologist at The Ottawa Hospital met his first patient with a severe facial deformity, he says his challenge was to “help artfully repair the damage.”
Using 3D-printed implants, physicians are now able to help restore facial functions like chewing, swallowing, breathing and speaking. But the technology also allows them to creatively repair and sculpt form. Dr. Rybicki is considered an international expert in this emerging field, having founded and served as the first Chairman of the Radiological Society of North America Special Interest Group.
In The Art of Medicine, an essay published in the February 17th edition of The Lancet, Rybicki encourages readers, a global community of health professionals, to begin viewing the world of medical 3D printing through an artists’ lens.
“I have discovered that the creativity inherent in 3D printing has enabled it to become an art form in medicine with ‘physician-artists’ working in a new studio—the hospital,” says Rybicki.
“This balanced approach of technology and art enables 3D printing to deliver a unique opportunity to improve patients’ quality of life.”
Last winter, The Ottawa Hospital launched the first hospital-based, multi-departmental Medical 3D Printing Program in Canada. The 3D printing program has revolutionized how doctors to produce models for the planning and practice of complex surgeries, develop prosthetics for patients, and create new research opportunities. The result has been an overall reduction of expenses and increase in quality of service for patients.
For those curious about recent advances in 3D printing technology, some of Dr. Rybicki and his team’s 3D-printed masterpieces are now part of a permanent exhibit at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum in Ottawa.