Original Research

Printing the Future—Updates in 3D Printing for Surgical Applications

Dekel Shilo, Omri Emodi, Ori Blanc, Dani Noy, and Adi Rachmiel


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is based on additive technology in which layers of materials are gradually placed to create 3D objects. The world of 3D printing is a rapidly evolving field in the medical industry as well as in most sectors of our lives. In this report we present current technological possibilities for 3D print¬ing in the surgical field. There are different 3D printing modalities and much confusion among clinicians regarding the differences between them. Three-dimensional printing technologies can be classified based on the basic material used: solid, liquid, and powder. We describe the main printing methods from each modality and present their advantages while focusing on their applications in different fields of surgery, starting from 3D printing of models for preoperative planning up to patient-specific implants (PSI). We present the workflow of 3D printing for the different applications and our experience in 3D printing surgical guides as well as PSI. We include examples of 3D planning as well as clinical and radiological imaging of cases. Three-dimensional printing of models for preoperative planning enhances the 3D perception of the planned operation and allows for preadaptation of surgical instruments, thus shortening operation duration and improving precision. Three-dimensional printed PSI allow for accurate reconstruction of anatomic relations as well as efficiently restoring function. The application of PSI is expanding rapidly, and we will see many more innovative treatment modalities in the near future based on this technology.

Rambam Maimonides Med J 2018;9(3):e0020