Doctors Use 3D Printers to Help Babies With Spina Bifida Who Are Not Even Yet Born
Doctors at an Orlando hospital say 3D printing technology helps them correct congenital disabilities in babies who are not even born yet.
The new technology allows doctors to print a life-size model of the fetus they plan to operate on, giving them a new way to plan surgery.
“This technology makes surgery safer and more informative for parents before surgery and helps me as a surgeon perform surgery safer, more efficiently and faster,” said Dr Samer Elbabaa, pediatric neurosurgeon at Orlando Health.
The new technology has proven to be crucial for Jocelyn Rodriguez, who has wanted to have children since meeting her husband.
“From the day we first started dating, we were talking about kids,” Rodriguez said.
But 18 weeks into her pregnancy, Rodriguez learned that her child would be born with spina bifida – a congenital condition in which a baby’s spine and spinal cord don’t form properly.
“None of us really knew what spina bifida was until we were diagnosed with it,” Rodriguez said.
Doctors recommended Rodriguez undergo risky in utero fetal surgery to cure the condition.
Fortunately, Elbabaa was able to use ultrasound images to 3D print a life-size model of the unborn baby, allowing her to visualize the defect and plan how to fix it.
After a successful operation, Rodriguez is expected by the end of June. She says doctors have already seen improvement in her baby’s health.
“She kicked, wiggling her toes, moving her ankles,” she said. “She loves having the hiccups. I mean, everything we could have wished for definitely happened.”
Elbabaa hopes to expand the use of the technology for conditions of other birth defects soon.