Skip to comments.3D-Printed Osteoid Cast With Built-In Ultrsound May Heal Bones 38% Faster
Posted on 04/22/2014 6:38:07 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
As 3D-printing technology advances, researchers are finding new ways to apply it to health care. One of the latest advances includes a cast that uses ultrasound to stimulate bone healing.
The future, it seems, will be filled with 3D printing. It's already been used to produce everything from food to organs, and theres certainly more to come. In July last year, some of the first prototypes for 3D-printed casts were revealed. But now, researchers have taken the prototype a step forward, adding on a form of ultrasound known to hasten the healing process.
Current casts, which are made of plaster, are not only heavy and uncomfortable, but they also get smelly as they are unable to get wet. 3D-printed casts are the total opposite. The cast revealed last year, called the Cortex cast, was made out of nylon plastic. It was waterproof, lightweight, ventilated, and, once its purpose was served, it could be recycled not to mention it was also stylish sporting a spider, web-like design. Patients who need it would theoretically get their fracture X-rayed, and then the 3D printer would custom print the cast to the shape of their limb, with extra reinforcement in the injured area.
Deniz Karasahin, the industrial designer behind a similar cast, called the Osteoid medical cast, won this years ADesign Award for 3D-printed forms and products. Though his design is similar to the one from last year, it goes a step further, incorporating a bone stimulation system known as low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS). The system works by applying transcutaneous acoustic energy to the fractured bones, according to a report on LIPUS in the Indian Journal of Orthopaedics.
Its believed that this low-intensity energy causes mechanical stress at the cellular level on both ends of the broken bone, stimulating molecular and cellular pathways involved in healing. Meanwhile, other research purports that the energy causes microscopic gas bubbles to develop within the fractured bone. In turn, these bubbles trap the acoustic energy with tissue fluid, causing a chain reaction in which the fluids circulate within, blood pressure rises around the injury, and healing accelerates by enhancing gas exchange and nutrient delivery.
Regardless, Karasahin and his team claim that someone whos using the cast can undergo 20-minute daily sessions with LIPUS to reduce the healing process by 38 percent while increasing the healing rate by as much as 80 percent. Those rates includes fractures that are nonunion, meaning that they fail to heal correctly. Thats good news for the estimated 6.2 million fractures occurring in the U.S. every year, of which five to 10 percent take longer than expected to heal or are nonunion.
The researchers next steps are to develop a more effective locking mechanism thats strong enough to protect the limb, practical enough to put it on the fragile injured area and simple enough so that it doesnt disturb the general form of the medical cast.
a few things are looking up anyway.
Less itching and smelly and faster healing. What’s not to like?
This is what can happen when individuals are empowered. Look at the rates of innovation compared with the collectivist large factory.
It’s been known that load bearing exercises increase bone density. A few decades ago the Russians were experimenting with electrostimulation to speed up the healing of fractures, currents being on the order of microamps. I had been skeptical about this until discussing with some researchers from the Texas Medical Center complex about small electrical currents found in bone tissue while undergoing load bearing exercise stress, in a similar mechanism to a piezoelectric current in a quartz crystal that was mechanically cycled. So I can see the same kind of bone stimulation due to the ultrasonic transducers in this kind of “cast”, more like a custom splint.
Harder to have your friends sign one.
I haven’t seen anyone with a plaster cast in years. All the ones I have seen lately are pretty lightweight fiberglass casts.
Still this looks pretty cool. Cool enough to ensure Obamacare will never cover them.