3D Printable Surgeons

Made you look. No, we’re not printing doctors, we’re just on our way to printing better surgical interventions. In the image below, you can see the progression of how a 3D printed surgical procedure might go.

(a) Inject a bunch of bio-ink goo onto the right spot and then (b-c) build an anchored scaffold out of that goo. Not pictured are the magical steps of closing wounds, adding issue, repairing tissues, etc.

The big fancy schmancy name of this technique is intracorporeal TE (tissue engineering). Normally, all of this is done outside of the body and the new tissue is matured within a bioreactor before being surgically implanted in a patient. Though this works well, it does carry with it the risk of infection and other complications. Intracorporeal (inside the body) Tissue Engineering (TE) lets the body be its own bioreactor. One super duper cool thing about the process is that visible light can be used inside of the body to do all of the cross-linking required.

Here is a liver resection wedge defect procedure in progress.

To read more about how 3D printing robots might invade your bod someday to fix it, click here.

Ali Asghari Adib et al, Direct-write 3D printing and characterization of a GelMA-based biomaterial for intracorporeal tissue engineering, Biofabrication (2020). DOI: 10.1088/1758-5090/ab97a1

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