News You Can Use: Printing a Body Part

Medical devices that were poorly designed or manufactured have made news in recent years. From defective hip implants to faulty transvaginal mesh implants, defective medical devices cause a world of hurt. As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) responds to challenges of dangerous devices on the market, it is turning its attention to medical devices of the future. 

Some could be coming soon to a printer near you. 

Tasked with examining the potential dangers and benefits of medical devices, the FDA has a mandate to keep the American consumer safe. Through its practice of regulatory science, the FDA looks at ways to safely assess the danger or benefits of new medicine and novel medical devices. 

Recent strides in 3-D printing have made it a focus at the FDA. Three-dimensional printing is the process of printing a solid object, or pieces of a solid object, based on a digital model. 

The FDA says recent medical uses of 3-D printing include: 

  • A patient received a 3-D-printed implant that replaced 75 percent of his skull. The skull portion was printed through a process that layered biocompatible material into a form designed specifically for the patient. 
  • A 3-D printer assisted a 20-month-old baby suffering from a rare condition, tracheobronchomalacia. Implant of a 3-D-printed tracheal splint allows the baby to breathe normally and grow out of the condition as his body slowly reabsorbs the splint without further surgery. 

Innovative technology explores new solutions to old problems. Sometimes new technology delivers as promised, and sometimes it does not. If you have been injured by a defective medical device in North Carolina, seek qualified legal counsel.

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