Broken bones just got a lot easier to mend.
That's thanks to 3D printing capabilities that allow doctors at St. Luke's University Health Network to ditch older methods and custom-fit casts for patients.
"3D printing technology was developed a few years ago but it was always cost-prohibited, how do we get a 3-dimensional scan, how do we get what actually looks like a patient's arm that you can then have a 3D printed process that doesn't have a big machine to put their arm inside?" said Dr. Kristofer Matullo, a hand surgeon with St. Luke's.
St. Luke's is partnering with ActivArmor, a Colorado-based company manufacturing 3D printed casts and splints.
"ActivArmor provides an alternative to traditional casts and splints with a waterproof, breathable, custom device with every patient," said ActivArmor owner Diana Hall.
The scan takes place right in the office a few days after the swelling goes down, and only takes a couple of seconds.
"We turn them around in one business day. Once they do the scan in the clinic, they upload them to us, we do the custom design and the fabrication in one to two days and then ship them right away to the clinic," Hall said.
Hall says the technology can be used for lots of things.
Dr. Matullo says traditional casts are still an option and necessary at times, but another option is always nice.
"So with the ActivArmor device, it allows you to access and see potential surgical incisions, if your patient has one. They can get wet. They an go in swimming pools, showers, oceans. It allows you to do that itch-scratching for some of those things which seem simple but is really important," Matullo said.