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3D Printing: A Possible Game Changer for Surgery Patients

by Fathia Jones on 2017-04-03T08:00:00-05:00 | Comments

Kris McCall image3D printing has become a viable tool for research, innovation, and education in many different industries. From 3D bioprinters creating transplantable human ears, muscles and bone tissues, to NASA sending it's second 3D printer into space, the demand for lower cost manufacturing and prototyping designs show no sign of waning. In September of 2016 the Robert Bird Health Sciences Library began offering 3D printing for free to the OUHSC campus students, faculty and staff to support the education, research and prototype needs of the community.

To date, the Library has printed approximately 100 objects including models of the human skull, brain and heart, to Zika virus molecules and a Raspberry Pi case. Our most notable prints so far were a hip fracture model and a knee prosthetic provided by Kristopher McCall, MD, Resident physician for the Department of Orthopedic Surgery and Rehabilitation. Dr. McCall had this to say when asked about the benefits of the Library's 3D printing services: 

"I am a 5th year Orthopedic resident going in to private practice.  In our 5th year we are tasked by the department to give a grand rounds talk (1 hour) to the department and community surgeons.  These are given on Friday's during the spring and do count toward CME.  We are allowed to pick our own topic and I chose 3D printing as I feel it will be of greater importance in Orthopedics as we move forward andhip fracture 3d print image will have a significant role in how we treat our patients in the future (maybe not so far future).  I wanted the 3D prints to be able to pass around and begin to open the door to our surgeons and the capabilities that are out there to make us all better surgeons.  It really is empowering to hold the replica of the bone in your hand, especially in deformity or trauma cases, prior to and during the surgical case.  The literature supports this as well, showing time and time again decreased surgical time and decreased use of intraoperative imaging.  This could be a game changer moving forward.  Only time will tell but it is an exciting time for sure."

- Kristopher McCall, MD (Top image: Dr. McCall holding the 3D printed hip. Bottom image: hip model with fracture close-up)

If you are interested in having a 3D object printed, fill out our request form and read our policies at or visit the Non-Print Media Department in the Robert Bird Library on the 3rd floor. 

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