The Department of Veterans Affairs is expanding its virtual 3D printing network designed to streamline medical functions such as presurgical planning and orthotics, VA said Thursday.
The department commenced the nationwide effort at the Puget Sound Healthcare System in Seattle, Wash. The VA is also developing an additive manufacturing-based bioprinting program aimed to fabricate tissues customized for each patient to avoid reliance on grafting surgeries and reduce wait times for tissues and organs.
“Through this growing virtual network, the VA continues to help define how 3D printing technology will be used in medicine for the benefit of patients,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie.
Puget Sound Healthcare System personnel utilize the 3D printing network to produce models of renal cancer patients’ kidneys to preserve normal kidney tissues, avoid impacting unaffected vessels and reduce up to two hours of surgery.
The network also helps occupational therapists on rapidly providing specialized hand orthotics through the network's same-day fitting and delivery capabilities. The VA deploys the network at 20 of its medical centers throughout the U.S.