Three Dimensional Printing Surgical Instruments: Are We There Yet?
AuthorRankin, Timothy M.
three dimensional printing
AdvisorArmstrong, David G.
MetadataShow full item record
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractBackground: The applications for rapid prototyping have expanded dramatically over the last 20 years. In recent years, additive manufacturing has been intensely investigated for surgical implants, tissue scaffolds, and organs. There is, however, scant literature to date that has investigated the viability of 3D printing of surgical instruments. Materials and Methods: Using a fused deposition manufacturing (FDM) printer, an army/ navy surgical retractor was replicated from polylactic acid (PLA) filament. The retractor was sterilized using standard FDA approved glutaraldehyde protocols, tested for bacteria by PCR, and stressed until fracture in order to determine if the printed instrument could tolerate force beyond the demands of an operating room. Results: Printing required roughly 90 minutes. The instrument tolerated 13.6 kg of tangential force before failure, both before and after exposure to the sterilant. Freshly extruded PLA from the printer was sterile and produced no PCR product. Each instrument weighed 16g and required only $0.46 of PLA. Conclusions: Our estimates place the cost per unit of a 3D printed retractor to be roughly 1/10th the cost of a stainless steel instrument. The PLA Army/ Navy is strong enough for the demands of the operating room. Freshly extruded PLA in a clean environment, such as an OR, would produce a sterile, ready to use instrument. Due to the unprecedented accessibility of 3D printing technology world wide, and the cost efficiency of these instruments, there are far reaching implications for surgery in some underserved and less developed parts of the world.
Degree ProgramGraduate College