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San Diego's smallest patients getting help from 3D technology at Rady Children's Hospital

Posted at 5:07 PM, Apr 04, 2019

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Inside the 3D Innovations Lab at Rady Children's Hospital, the hearts, bones, skulls, and spines of patients are brought to life in a new way.

Justin Ryan, Ph.D. is director of the lab. Using 3D printers, they can replicate a patient's anatomy down to every precise detail, giving doctors critical information before surgery.

“The concept is by giving our doctors more information they can perform a better procedure; they can even perform it with less time. So that means less time under bypass, less time under anesthesia, which is great for the patients themselves," said Ryan.

For example, if a patient is a candidate for a stent or valve, doctors could use the 3D model to try different sizes before entering the operating room.

“We give them more information to plan a better procedure," said Ryan.

While some of the models take several hours, many can be created within the day.

“There isn’t an average day, I might have a cardiac case in the morning, an ortho case in the evening, I'll have a doctor have an idea for a medical device that they wanted to design or develop, and that all happens here," said Ryan.

Ryan says the 3D models are also useful when explaining the procedure to families.

The technology is currently being funded by grants and donations, at no extra cost to families. Ryan believes insurance eventually will help cover costs.