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3D Printed Bone Models Cut Cost of Surgery Operations

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the make-no-bones-about-it dept.

Medicine 88

Tasha26 writes "A trainee surgeon, Mark Frame, has figured out how to save U.K.'s NHS thousands of pounds by taking advantage of 3D-printer technology. Success in orthopedic operations relies on surgeons having an accurate 3D model of the area where the operation will take place. Such models take time to produce and cost up to £1200 ($1915). Mark, a self-confessed 'technology geek,' used open source OsiriX software to convert CT scans into files which are readable by the 3D printers at Shapeways, a company in the Netherlands. Within a week they produced and delivered the first plastic 3D model of a child's forearm at a cost of £77 ($123). Mark has written a free guide so that other surgeons can make their own bones, which is being considered for publication by the World Journal of Science and Technology."

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Nice! (5, Insightful)

spiffmastercow (1001386) | about 2 years ago | (#37935154)

Side note -- if this happened in the US, he would have kept the source closed, founded a company, charged extortionary prices, and the entire medical profession would be worse off at his expense.

Re:Nice! (1, Funny)

ArhcAngel (247594) | about 2 years ago | (#37935194)

Wait...In two years Apple will come out with the iBone (yes I went there) claim it as revolutionary and sue this guy for all he's worth.

Re:Nice! (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 2 years ago | (#37935926)

Coincidentally, a week later Nintendo announces their new Wii Bone, targeted at the adult entertainment market. Maybe they can resurrect the FuFme product too. :)

Re:Nice! (2, Interesting)

DeadCatX2 (950953) | about 2 years ago | (#37936006)

Wii Bone, a sequel to the critically acclaimed We Dare title from Ubisoft. No, I am not joking. [youtube.com]

Re:Nice! (1)

binarylarry (1338699) | about 2 years ago | (#37936040)

Two years later, Microsoft will release the xBone 7.

Hilarity ensues.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935978)

I have an iBone and I gave it to both your mother and sister last night.

Re:Nice! (1)

Barsteward (969998) | about 2 years ago | (#37936446)

Half each??

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37947222)

yeah, I can never put it in more then 1/2 way, but 12" is enough for every woman I've ever met.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37936600)

You'd have to sue Max Hardcore as well. He would fall under the iBone category.

You joke, but (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 2 years ago | (#37937472)

we're about two years from the first lawsuits against these printing service for IP violations. Let's say you break a plastic bracket on your ten-year old car and instead of paying say $80 for one from the dealer, you have one reproduced for half that. Oh, There Will Be Blood. Once these 'printing houses' are shut down, the machines themselves will be impossibly expensive as they will have a five-figure cost added on for licensing fees. Once again, the blood-sucking corporations will make sure the future stays uncool.

Re:Nice! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935246)

So what if it were kept closed source? I would have still undoubtedly been cheaper than what they were using, saving money, however much.

People do have the right to make money, based on a new creative idea - its called innovation. If we don't have any incentive to innovate (read money), it's likely that much innovation would stagnate. If I were this guy, I'd be marketing my own kit to hospitals everywhere, at say 50% of the going rate - enough to make them buy it, while making money for myself at the same time.

I like the idea of open source, but it's naive to think that EVERYTHING should be open source, else it's evil.

Re:Nice! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935354)

You're a sad little person, aren't you, to equate incentive with money.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37937244)

Nope, he's just a normal person. Money is useful and if I can have fun doing something and making money out of it, it's going to be even better than just having fun doing something and not getting money out of it.

Re:Nice! (1)

flimflammer (956759) | about 2 years ago | (#37939622)

No, I don't really think he is.

Re:Nice! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935512)

Open source != free as in beer.
Making money != closed source.

This is why the "open source" movement bothers RMS so much. It has totally derailed the message.
Free software is about always being able and legally permitted to fix and improve the software, not just for yourself, but for everyone.
The incentives are irrelevent. If you want to do it to make money, cool. If you want to do it to improve the world, cool.
The point of free software is that you get to do it, whatever your motivation--and then you don't try to stop anyone else from doing it.

Re:Nice! (1)

ckaminski (82854) | about 2 years ago | (#37936502)

I'm innovating all the time. I have a shit-ton of ideas sitting around that I'm tinkering on that probably won't make me a single penny, but are useful devices. Odds are I'll use open source to make them available to the world. If I can open source 3d models of product bodies as well I'll do it.

Re:Nice! (3, Insightful)

morgauxo (974071) | about 2 years ago | (#37937404)

He took CT scans (already existed)
Fed them through an open source program (already existed)
And sent them to a 3D printer (already existed)


If I understand the paytard philosophy, this is innovative enough that he should get a government supported monopoly?
And rather than limiting the benefit patients can receive from this technology to only as many patients as his new startup can handle and driving up the price because supply would be way less than demand and competition nil this is supposed to somehow foster continued innovation?

F'ng PayTards, I hope one day they see the medicines and treatments they need single sourced and priced out of reach.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37939406)

The thing is that every time something gets cheaper to produce, the medical industry just jacks up the price some more and pockets the profit.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935538)

Please stop lying and exaggerating. This post shows how much you know about how things work here.

If this happened in the U.S. he would have been sued well before trying anything like this as someone else would claim a patent on some portion of it. The U.S. court would have placed a fine on his idea and then some major company would release a similar product and charge a "market rate" a couple of dollars less than the going cost.

This is how our wonderful market system works, not the way you described. Now please stop making these silly uninformed comments about how things work here.

Good day to you sir.

Re:Nice! (0)

logjon (1411219) | about 2 years ago | (#37936132)

Sadly, this is probably very close to what would actually happen.

Re:Nice! (2)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#37936142)

Exactly, this is what they mean by "disruptive" technology. There are lots of people out there comfortable raking in millions of dollars for their over-priced medical stuff. Putting something like this out for cheap will really make some people upset.

But... in the US, there is the FDA which are easily manipulated into keeping this in the "not approved" category for as long as it takes.

Re:Nice! (1)

ckaminski (82854) | about 2 years ago | (#37937104)

But this never goes into a human body - why is the FDA even involved?

Re:Nice! (1)

erroneus (253617) | about 2 years ago | (#37938922)

The FDA gets involved in a LOT of things that don't go into the human body.

Re:Nice! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935634)

Uh..... unlikely.

FDA approval (2)

Quila (201335) | about 2 years ago | (#37935766)

Don't worry, any company wanting to do it will need FDA approval for their implementation and then the price will get close to that.

And then if insurance covers it they'll jack up the price further, and there won't be any savings at all.

Re:FDA approval (3, Informative)

DrXym (126579) | about 2 years ago | (#37936414)

I doubt you need FDA approval for something which just prints out a model of a scan. The patient isn't going to have the part shoved back in them, it's a surgeons tool. Though I can see that if it were used as the basis of producing parts that went back into a patient, e.g. a plate, band or whatever that it might become expensive. More likely they just want something they can hold, turn around, poke, practice with etc.

Re:Nice! (2)

ShavedOrangutan (1930630) | about 2 years ago | (#37936020)

In the U.S., I don't think he'd even be allowed to do this without a decade of red tape from the Federal Department of Government. So he would definitely need some way to extract a lot of money to support all the regulation. Never mind getting sued into oblivion by ambulance chasing personal injury lawyers.

It wouldn't happen like this in the U.S., but it's not the market in the way. It's the government.

Re:Nice! (1)

PRMan (959735) | about 2 years ago | (#37937934)

If he were smart, he'd start marketing it in South America and Asia, where they don't have as much red tape.

You're right (1)

bigtrike (904535) | about 2 years ago | (#37939102)

We should just eliminate the FDA entirely. Then we can save a lot of money because people will just attempt to regrow their bones by drinking oil from snakes as there will be no agency to stop anyone from marketing all medical techniques as 100% proven to work. The free market always works best!

Re:You're right (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37942954)

since this would rapidly result in a much higher aggregate IQ I wonder why you appear to be against it.

Re:Nice! (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 2 years ago | (#37936636)

Supply and Demand. It wouldn't be sold for extortionary prices, because not enough people would buy it. Having it Open Source means the medical profession will not widely use it, Because a fault would be on the implementer of the technology. Aka The poor slob who set it up from the instructions. So if a patient dies or is crippled from this technology then the implementer gets in a lot of trouble. The company offers more then just the device, it offers protection, if there is a problem the company takes the lawsuit and not any individual.
The pricing would mostly be with the hardware sales, and the software price would probably fall under a few thousands of dollars. Still saving the organization a ton of money and they will be willing to implement it. Vs. a Hack Some Cheap Ass Doctor made.

Re:Nice! (1)

Talennor (612270) | about 2 years ago | (#37937888)

I know a guy in Atlanta that's been working on doing exactly this with a Makerbot. And all that stuff is open source, from mechanical plans to software.

Love (1)

Xaide (1015779) | about 2 years ago | (#37935170)

Pretty soon here we'll be able to print the fifth element from dna found in a robot bug glove.

Re:Love (1)

arielCo (995647) | about 2 years ago | (#37935470)

"But Brain, we already have plenty of Boron. "

What an idiot (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#37935304)

He is supposed to patent it and charge up to £1999 for each model.

Hey 3D printing haters (0)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about 2 years ago | (#37935412)

How do you like this "trinket?"

Re:Hey 3D printing haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935428)

niche?

Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (4, Informative)

pavon (30274) | about 2 years ago | (#37935548)

This just demonstrates the one niche that 3D printing is good at. We have been using 3D printing for prototyping for years, and they work great for that. You get an object that is good enough for a one-off prototype without the expense of casting or milling. But they are worthless for producing anything that needs to last, or have any sort of structural strength.

"Haters" don't hate 3D printing for what it is good for, they hate the hype surrounding it saying it will revolutionize manufacturing and will quickly improve to the point where home users can make things as good as professional manufacturing can. That's just not going to happen.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (3, Insightful)

ciderbrew (1860166) | about 2 years ago | (#37935946)

That's just not going to happen.

People want to be able to print objects. There is a want and a need. To say it isn't going to happen in the next X years is daft.
They just need to change the ink. I'm looking forward to have a Graphene printer on my desk in the next 20years.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#37939920)

"People want to be able to print objects. There is a want and a need."

Exactly, as an old fart, my first color printer an HP500C did cost over a thousand bucks here when it came out.
I paid >15000$ for my first PostScript printer >25 years ago.
I'd better not tell you what the color dye-sub printer did cost when it came out.

As first models they all sucked as much as the 3d printers do, according to some people here.

Give it some time!

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (3, Informative)

adamgundy (836997) | about 2 years ago | (#37936442)

I have a counterpoint:

http://blogs.nasa.gov/cm/blog/J2X/posts/post_1297869180794.html [nasa.gov]

this is a duct for the J2-X rocket engine, produced using Direct Metal Laser Sintering (3D printed metal, in other words). it has to operate at insane temperatures and pressures... and it does, perfectly.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37937270)

"Direct Metal Laser Sintering (3D printed metal, in other words)"

Oh fuck off. THIS is why I hate the whole "3D printing" fad. You can't just go around and pick and choose some incredible industrial process that does one thing that has absolutely no bearing on what people need at home, and call it "3D printing" "in other words". That's just insanely retarded. It's intellectually dishonest, it does a huge disservice to both the legit 3D printing people and the sintering process. And it provides free publicity to the liar and thief Bre Pettis. Enough already. His smegma can't taste like vanilla, just stop sucking his knob already.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 2 years ago | (#37940802)

What incredible industrial process? It's similar to a beefy laser printer, and there are machines for it that are the size of a fridge. It may not be a home sized printer just yet, but by no means an entire industrial production line either.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37941486)

That's right, and that isn't a 3D printer. We agree. Now what?

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (1)

vadim_t (324782) | about 2 years ago | (#37941592)

No, we don't. It's a 3D printer.

This one lays fine metal dust and then fuses it with a laser. Other printers do the same with plastic. Or squirt glue from a printing head. Or lay down molten plastic. There's more than one way to do it.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37942252)

You're renaming something after the fact to fit your twisted logic. Intellectually dishonest. It's like calling really fine powder "nano". Give me a break.

Re:Protyping is the only thing they are good for. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37942692)

That's just not going to happen.

Not with that attitude, anyway...

Re:Hey 3D printing haters (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37937034)

This isn't a Makerbot, it's made by professional stereolithography machines that have been around for decades. Stop misappropriating things other people do, Bre.

And to quote a (rare) smart slashdotter that has critical thinking skills, unlike you RMH:

""Haters" don't hate 3D printing for what it is good for, they hate the hype surrounding it saying it will revolutionize manufacturing and will quickly improve to the point where home users can make things as good as professional manufacturing can. That's just not going to happen."

Very impressive! (1)

wisebabo (638845) | about 2 years ago | (#37935464)

My hat is off to this guy! (All I've done with Osiris-X is look at pretty pictures).

I was kinda hoping that this meant the printer would make the actual replacement part but I guess that's a problem of what kinds of material the printer can use and not of his ingenuity. Unfortunately it'll probably be a while until a human bone replacement can be printed out on a hobbyist printer.

Still great! Nothing beats an actual 3D physical model for per-visualization.

Sounds great, but... (1)

Max Romantschuk (132276) | about 2 years ago | (#37935504)

...I could totally see this failing due to privacy legislature relating to patient records.

I guess hospitals should start buying 3D-printers then?

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#37935842)

The question is when these machines become reliable and affordable enough for general purchase. Additional potential early adopters:

  - car dealerships for use in their service department (print a replacement part rather than waiting on delivery of it)
  - architects (the current project on _This Old House_ has prominently featured models of the house AIUI, made by the homeowner's company Z Corporation)
  - jewelers (print off a 3D model in wax for lost wax casting)

William

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 2 years ago | (#37936178)

    Well, two problems with the first potential.

    Dealerships buy parts distributed by the manufacturer. Most of the price difference between a dealer part, and a quality aftermarket part is the name stamped on the box. And, of course, the price is reflected to the consumer.

    The other problem is, 3d printing isn't generally good for making anything with strength. They could make something that looks exactly like what you need, but they aren't going to print a strong part. They'd have a decent chance printing plastic parts, but not anything with a bearing or forged components. I've seen a bit about 3d printing in metals, but that's fairly expensive, and still doesn't have the required strength.

    You also run into problems with differences in materials. They can't print a hose, head gasket, brake pad, thermostat, or even a radiator cap (show me a functional 3d printed spring).

    I'd be willing to go as far as to say that even small plastic trim pieces would be more expensive to print, than to get shipped in.

    That's not to say it won't happen in the future, but it won't be a future where they're spraying or dripping materials to create a solid object.

    The other thing is, dealerships are only required to make parts available for so many years after the vehicle is out of production. I believe that is 10 years. So when that specific model of vehicle, or other vehicles with compatible parts, is no longer being produced, they have a financial incentive to *not* make the parts any more. For many cars, when they're 15 to 20 years old, there are plenty of parts that you need to source from a junk yard, or just junk the car entirely.

    I have a 1982 industrial vehicle that has this problem. Detroit Diesel made the engine. Allison made the transmission. General Motors made most of the other parts. There are a few pieces that I simply can't get replacements for. I tried to source the fan belt idler arm and pulley. DD said that particular motor was shipped with no accessories, and the don't have anything that resembles it. GM stopped making them about 10 years ago. Instead of replacing it, which was the right thing, I managed to disassemble it, fix the problem, and reassemble it. It's in the best interest of GM, and all the invested manufacturers, if I bought a new vehicle. They could sell me a $75 part, or a $100,000 vehicle.

Re:Sounds great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37936466)

The other thing is, dealerships are only required to make parts available for so many years after the vehicle is out of production. I believe that is 10 years. So when that specific model of vehicle, or other vehicles with compatible parts, is no longer being produced, they have a financial incentive to *not* make the parts any more.

That sounds like you pinpointed a sweet niche market for 3D printing right there.

(posting anonymously 'cause I've already moderated here: hope you liked your point.)

Re:Sounds great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37937990)

So you skipped the reality part: "3d printing isn't generally good for making anything with strength. They could make something that looks exactly like what you need, but they aren't going to print a strong part.", and went straight for the fantasy part. OK then...

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

ckaminski (82854) | about 2 years ago | (#37937212)

Open source cars. :-)

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | about 2 years ago | (#37938966)

    We already have that. :)

    You can build an entire car at your house. It's perfectly legal too. You don't even have to use a single OEM part.

    The aftermarket industry is full of places that not only make compatible parts, but make them better.

    Here's a rough idea of a monster that'll probably get you killed.

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/SLE-12542M/ [summitracing.com]
770HP Engine: $20,000

http://www.summitracing.com/parts/RMG-7051626ED/ [summitracing.com]
6 speed transmission: $3,700

http://www.sandrocket.com/img/pix_main/photo_gallery/pg_revisoins.4.29.06/red-green-silver1.jpg [sandrocket.com]
Rolling Chassis: $10k-$30k

A bit of creative skin and windshield $2,000

Oh, and in most states, lights, horn, and turn signals, if they weren't included with the chassis. :)

There are a few pieces I left out, and I didn't ensure anything would actually mate up.

    For $35,000 you could have fast, light, safe (if you keep it under 200mph) 4mpg rocket.

    I say safe, because if you've ever seen any of the numerous NASCAR crashes, quite a few drivers walk away unharmed from crashes at over 150mph, where the car is thrown, flipped, run into, and otherwise did acrobatics that would leave any passenger car looking like a convenient metal coffin for the occupants.

    Since most of us don't *need* 770hp, you can build a car for less than a new car costs.

    You couldn't print one though. See my comments in the previous message about strength. You can't print forged parts. At least not right now. You can print something that looks like them though. You may be able to print a mold, but by the time you consider the rest of what it takes to make those parts, you're better off buying from someone who mass produces them.

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

nospam007 (722110) | about 2 years ago | (#37940096)

"show me a functional 3d printed spring"

Here's a video of one.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxwbQSMbEIA [youtube.com]

Also, google for " 3d printed spring" and you'll get >5000 hits.

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

JWSmythe (446288) | more than 2 years ago | (#37945030)

    You're kidding, right?

    I was referencing a standard radiator cap. A high temperature plastic cap, with spring steel, to keep roughly 200 degree water under at least 15psi, but excessive pressure is allowed to push the seal up to allow the release of potentially catastrophic pressure.

    And you show me a plastic toy?

    Show me a printer that could make such a device. It's not rocket science to make one. It's just impossible with any current 3d printers.

    The mention was printing a car. You can't even show me how to make that one simple piece.

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

91degrees (207121) | about 2 years ago | (#37936212)

They're pretty cheap when talking in terms of a hospital budget.. I think we're talking in terms of low thousands of pounds. The 3D print on demand companies are probably laughing all the way to the bank at the moment, and I have no problem with that. They're providing a service that people are willing to pay for, and offering it much cheaper than the alternatives.

Re:Sounds great, but... (1)

Microlith (54737) | about 2 years ago | (#37937388)

I could totally see this failing due to privacy legislature relating to patient records.

That only controls how the hospital and their associates handle the documents. I, however, can do whatever I please with my patient records including posting them up on the internet for all to see or sending a 3D MRI model of, let's say my crazily warped femur, to a rapid prototyping shop to have them produce it.

Re:Sounds great, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37950022)

...I could totally see this failing due to privacy legislature relating to patient records.

I guess hospitals should start buying 3D-printers then?

Then how do hospitals get the old-style models? I doubt they are made in-house.

Makes no difference (1)

oic0 (1864384) | about 2 years ago | (#37935684)

That just means the hospital will charge you 150,000 for the surgery instead of 152,000. Very little difference to the american consumer.

Re:Makes no difference (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 2 years ago | (#37942156)

"Very little difference to the american consumer."

Fly overseas and get the work done there. Medical "tourism" is becoming more and more common as the price of an airline flight is a trifle compared to inflated US medical costs.

Recent Rebuild (1)

phrostie (121428) | about 2 years ago | (#37935700)

After recently having my arm broke in more places than they could count in the xray and then rebuilt with plates and screws I think this is really cool.
it's another option! another tool.

I'm lucky that I got to keep my arm but it could have been the other way around.

Just my .020001 USD from having been there.

Get ready for the "experts" and lawyers. (2)

dreemernj (859414) | about 2 years ago | (#37935856)

The company that was selling the replicas for $1900 a piece will probably be queuing up lawyers and paid "experts" very soon to give extremely good reason why the government should pass a law making this illegal.

I don't know how they'll justify it, but what difference does that make? They'll find a way to justify it no matter what.

Re:Get ready for the "experts" and lawyers. (2)

mzs (595629) | about 2 years ago | (#37941420)

Might actually be OsiriX themselves, they charge $600 per seat, $600 every year for support and updates. The free version is not supposed to be used clinically.

Re:Get ready for the "experts" and lawyers. (1)

dreemernj (859414) | more than 2 years ago | (#37985556)

Wow, that changes the entire story.

Please stop advertising for Shapeways (2)

Libertarian001 (453712) | about 2 years ago | (#37935876)

Seriously, Shapeways doesn't do anything different from any other 3d-print bureau, except charge a little less for significantly worse service and products run at lower resolutions. They use the same 3d printers that are available all over the place.

The story here is that a 3d printer was used to make a prosthetic bone for a patient. That's freaking cool.

Re:Please stop advertising for Shapeways (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about 2 years ago | (#37936262)

The story here is that a 3d printer was used to make a prosthetic bone for a patient. That's freaking cool.

That would be very cool, but it isn't what happened. They're using the 3d printer to make a model so that they can visualize and interact with a model of the bones before performing the surgery. Still cool, but not as cool as printing an actual replacement part would be.

Re:Please stop advertising for Shapeways (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37937674)

FINALLY, someone with reading and comprehension skills. It's tiring to constantly deal with the "they 3D printed a bone" crowd. It's like dealing with retards on pudding day! Just calm the fuck down and engage your common sense neuron.

Re:Please stop advertising for Shapeways (1)

Libertarian001 (453712) | about 2 years ago | (#37939758)

Yup, I failed my reading comprehension. And while reading it I was wondering about FDA (or UK-equivalent) approval for such a construct, clinical trials, etc. Guess I was drinking too deeply from the stupid-cup this morning.

Re:Please stop advertising for Shapeways (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37943146)

Shapeways is considerably cheaper than any other service and in the plastic has a comparable turnaround to most services.

We have the technology, we can rebuild him! (1)

Commontwist (2452418) | about 2 years ago | (#37935902)

Let the jokes and conspiracy theories begin!

Seriously, I wonder if a built in health monitor could be 'printed' into the bone? Or if stronger materials could be embedded into the normal biologically acceptable material? Carbon nanotube fibers surrounded by self-repairing plastic?

Something that could pick up nervous system signals (if it's a bone it's darn close to them) and using the body as a natural antenna would be interesting. Someone put an iPhone into their artificial arm which was neat but doing something like this to a bone would make updates, er, difficult.

Oooh! Oooh! Quantum computer embedded into skull bone replacement!

How far can you think one can go with this?

Re:We have the technology, we can rebuild him! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37936260)

So he made his bones in the medical profession by making bones? Very innovative, no bones about it!

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37935952)

Great that it's open source but it's far from revolutionary. Materialise has been doing this for 10+ years. Lots of Orthopaedic companies are selling guides and bone models with this same concept in the US today. Prices vary, of course...

$%^&* this is awesome but... (1)

forgot_my_username (1553781) | about 2 years ago | (#37936082)

I had this idea a long time ago... I am a complete idiot for not getting off my ass, and off slashdot.
(I was in ortho clinicals at the time)

Hell, if I had done it, i would probably have sold it to Nokia, or some other company with a history of #$%^ing things up

Re:$%^&* this is awesome but... (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 2 years ago | (#37936266)

It's really just a timing thing. Orthpods have been doing this for years with varying technologies - he 'just' figured out how to massage the data in Osirex to talk to the Shapeways printers. A neat bit of programming but not, in and of itself, much of a business model.

And to everyone who thinks they are actually making bones with the printers, back off on the Mountain Dew for a minute. They are just making plastic models to help visualize prospective surgeries better. It will be a while before Shapeways is making biological frameworks.

Re:$%^&* this is awesome but... (1)

forgot_my_username (1553781) | more than 2 years ago | (#37945824)

while it isn't possible to make actual bones, it is possible to make casts from the models, and make better fitting prosthetic pieces from them.

Very Cool but Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37936614)

Great that it's open source but this is nothing new. Materialise in Belgium has been doing this for 10+ years; software and printing. Lots of orthopaedic companies in the US even use this to make bone models and even form fitting surgical guides- FDA approved. http://www.materialise.com/orthopaedics, Biomet's Signature , Zimmer's PSI, DePuy TruMatch, Smith and Nephew's Visionaire...seems to work commercially.

again: technology in medicine (2)

roman_mir (125474) | about 2 years ago | (#37937558)

Just like a comment a couple of days ago [slashdot.org] , same here:

Technology and innovation and invention causes prices to DROP not to rise and this is true for all fields and medical field is not an exception, however the paradox is in - the prices keep going up.

Again: the reason that prices in western medicine are going up has nothing to do with innovation, technology and invention. Those things do push prices down.

Any pill that prevents a surgery causes prices to go down.

Yet the prices are going up. The reason why prices in health care and health insurance are going up is government money in it. Government creates, supports, subsidizes, promotes, stimulates and bails out monopolies, this is true for all monopolies, including the large pharma.

FDA is standing there not to save you in any way, it's there to create a barrier to entry to any innovator who would otherwise come out with new technology. The innovator wants to make profit. There is plenty of profit to be made in health care and health insurance because there is plenty of things to innovate with. Plenty of new drugs, procedures, tools, instruments, data integration systems, etc.etc., all of this can be built. Most of it is not built, because the cost of entering the field is horrendous.

Who has 500 million dollars to pay for whatever FDA wants and requires? All the the stuff that is being worked on - it has to overcome a major hurdle of sinking half a billion dollars initially, before even starting the sales.

So first you have to spend time and money to create something, you HAVE to make sure it works. But then you have to pay everything that FDA requires for, and this goes into hundreds of millions. If you target a small time problem, where there are maybe a few tens of thousands of cases only to be helped, you are out of luck. You can't make any money, you can't overcome this hurdle of having to sink hundreds of millions of dollars.

-- /. crowd can't seem to comprehend that, and it's funny, because they are capable of understanding at least some of the principle of initial investment. There were all these comments on the few people who make a lot of money by selling iPad and iPhone apps, and some HERE were arguing that it's impossible to turn a profit due to 'high cost of entry', which is 99 dollars.

That's right, they are complaining that they have to sink 99 dollars of investment capital (as if they don't have to spend their actual time, which supposedly is worth more than that to write an app.)

So they understand overcoming the 99 dollar barrier. How come they can't comprehend the difficulties involved in overcoming just the licensing costs of say half a billion (never mind the problems with all other gov't regulations, start with patents and end with drug distribution regulations).

--

This story is good, somebody came out with an innovation. I am sure in FREE market he could make a difference.

Re:again: technology in medicine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37947974)

You are wrong, countries with much more government involvement (including nationalised health services) have much lower costs for better life expectancies than the US, and those without regulation pay for it in human lives every day and do not necessarily end up cheaper per *effective* treatment than the US.

So why do we have increased cost over time? Increased lifespan and survivability for long term treatments, and increased numbers of cures. When type 1 diabetics or cancer patients died within months you had to pay much more for hospital beds etc. but did not have to pay for long. The better the survival for chronic diseases the longer that you have to continue treatment. "Worse" many patients are surviving illness such as cancer to get other different illnesses or need hip replacements etc. In the long run the costs of healthcare will only drop when we have the level of knowledge to achieve indefinite lifespan, or if we deliberately do not treat curable diseases.

More Info (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37937974)

Slicer (http://www.slicer.org, open source) does the same and more than Osirix(mac) on pc/linux. We here at IBUR use the Object printers to print clear and white at the same time. Printing in clear allows you to see more internal structures as well as nerves and roots in white. Doing the full skulls for orthognathic surgery makes for interesting led lit Halloween props( with signed release forms, of course).
www.iburbiosystems.com/newsite/ ( under construction )

Re:More Info (1)

Smurf (7981) | more than 2 years ago | (#37955104)

Slicer (http://www.slicer.org, open source) does the same and more than Osirix(mac) on pc/linux.

No. First, Slicer runs on Macs also. Second, Slicer does a lot of awesome things that OsiriX isn't even expected to do. With that I agree. But third and most importantly: For the type of job OsiriX is intended to do, i.e., the fast, accurate and user-friendly visualization of 2D and 3D medical images (CT, PET, SPECT, MRI), Slicer is a very poor choice.

These are two very different tools for different uses. A smart researcher will have both kinds of tools at hand and use each one for what it does best.

If you want a free (though I thin not Open Source) program that does the same as OsiriX on Linux (and Windows and Mac), search for VolView. Unfortunately, even though it is made by KitWare, the company that develops the VTK and ITK libraries that do most of OsiriX's magic, VolView's performance is subpar and its user-friendliness is shockingly lacking.

That's not news (1)

Frederico Camara (976080) | about 2 years ago | (#37938044)

That is not news, at least in Brazil. I have been to at least five speeches about the same topic in the last 6 years. By November 2007, five years in development inVesailus software became Free Software, using the CC-GPL license (a non official GPL translation license used in Brazil).

From the Wikipedia article (in portuguese):
https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/pt/wiki/InVesalius
"By 2010, the software was already used to build more than 1500 prototype models..."

A 2008 article (in portuguese), showing a prototype picture:
http://cienciaecultura.bvs.br/scielo.php?pid=S0009-67252008000100004&script=sci_arttext

SVN site (in english):
http://svn.softwarepublico.gov.br/trac/invesalius

Cost figure is misleading! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37938426)

The high cost isn't associated with any materials costs, it's all labor!

I used to work in a research laboratory that studied hip deformities; as part of our modeling, we had to generate detailed 3-D models of hips from CT scans. The reason for the cost of such models isn't a material cost - it's the labor associated with "segmenting" the CT scan. Resolution is often very poor on CT scans and algorithms simply aren't good enough to create a proper "segmented" 3-D model on the fly; each model required, in our lab, 40-60 hours of manual cleanup and smoothing to create an accurate surface geometry. In other words, all this work would have to be done before the piece could be printed anyway!

The better solution would be for somebody to develop some more intelligent algorithms that are able to automate the segmentation process used to create 3-D models from CT scans.

Mac not supplied (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#37939684)

Open source, closed hardware

Technology is awesome (1)

N1cole (2468996) | more than 2 years ago | (#37944452)

I love all of the new things I keep hearing that 3D printers are able to create.

Old technology (1)

backwardMechanic (959818) | more than 2 years ago | (#37945372)

Steve Smith has been doing this at the John Radcliffe in Oxford for maybe ten years or more. He's a maxillofacial surgeon, working on difficult facial reconstruction (seriously, these guys get to see some ugly messes - what they do is incredible). He has a 5-axis mill, and some software cobbled together by a former PhD student. He uses CT data to cut out skulls from foam, so he can practice fitting plates to the skull before opening the patient. They also make neat desk ornaments.
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