3D Printing and Radiology

There is no denying that the use of 3D printing is on the rise. In fact, as Dr. Rybicki, chair of the Department of Radiology, University of Ottawa put it:

“We’re in the beginning of an exponential curve in growth in 3D printing.” According to him “Things are dramatically ramping up, and when 3D printed models are reimbursed, the field will explode.”

This 3D printing boom comes as no surprise to those familiar with the impact this new modality is having in medicine. 3D printing has had a major influence on surgical planning, patient-specific simulations, and education. With accurate, life-sized models, surgeons can understand a patient’s anatomy before entering the operating room. This saves lives and operating costs. These models also allow physicians to better explain to a patient their diagnoses and potential interventions.

For those who have seen the difference 3D printing can make, there is no doubt that this is the next major modality; however, the question still remains will it be managed and delivered by radiology? The answer will probably be determined by which group steps up and takes the lead in creating the regulations and policies this new domain needs.

Answering the call for leadership is the RSNA, who last year announced the creation of a 3D Printing Special Interest Group (SIG) in partnership with Stratasy. The group is the first collaborative group of its kind and is set to become an industry authority on 3D printing and radiology.

The SIG has a lot of work to do. The group’s mission is to “To promote the highest quality 3D printing applied to medicine via education and research, collaboration, and research. The SIG will focus on maintaining a prominent role for radiologists in this diverse and growing specialty.” To do the group will build evidence for 3D printing through journal articles and trials. It will also create standard terminology and a medical certification program.

“What we are trying to do through the special interest group is build evidence to allow it to be in more hospitals and surgical centers. Build the evidence to be more reimbursable.” -Jonathan Morris, MD from the Mayo Clinic

If you agree that radiology must play a leadership role in this growing domain and would like to be involved in the shaping of this field please consider joining the SIG.

RSNA members can simply call the RSNA Membership Department at 1–877–776–2636 and pay the additional $40 annual 3D Printing SIG fee to become a member of the SIG for 2017. Not eligible for RSNA Membership? You are still able to join the 3D Printing SIG as a SIG Affiliate Member. Click here for the application.