The Role of 3D Printing in Medical Imaging Technologies

Posted on May 17, 2018


Since X-ray machines were first used over a century ago, doctors have relied on medical imaging for visual representations of patients that can be used for diagnosis and to provide crucial information for surgery.  As important as traditional imaging is, with the increased availability of 3D imaging - and soon - 3D printing, advanced imaging will have even more life-saving properties in the future. Here are some advancements you might expect to see at your local diagnostic imaging center in Suffolk County, NY.

Advancements in 3D Imaging

A traditional CT or MRI scan produces hundreds of images taken from different angles that need to be reviewed and cross-referenced to fully digest all the information the images have to offer, and to make sure nothing gets missed. 3D imaging, however, is able to create a single all-encompassing image of the area being scanned. A true 3D wouldn't even require 3D glasses for viewing. Imaging machines are being developed right now which can make it possible to examine an area of the body in a single 3D image, saving time and energy, and enabling specialists to find anomalies like tumors that would remain practically invisible using typical 2D imaging.


3D Imaging in Surgery

No matter how detailed the 2D image, the surgeon will have no real idea what they can expect to find until they open up the patient. Imagine how valuable it would be if they could get a realistic look at the insides of the patient before surgery takes place. With 3D imaging, the surgeon can truly look at the affected area from all angles in advance, allowing them the opportunity to prepare for surgery in a way no one thought possible just a generation ago.


Sending digital images to an expert across the globe can only accomplish so much using traditional imaging. A CAT scan or MRI is much more valuable when a doctor can examine the patient personally. Lacking that context, the images by themselves don't tell nearly the same story to an expert looking at images on the other side of the globe. 3D imaging, however, provides a complete display of the scanned area that is as close to a perfect representation of the patient anyone could hope to expect when viewed from a remote location.

The Future of 3D Printing

At the present, 3D printing doesn't have the speed to keep up with imaging. However, in the not too distant future, it isn't hard to envision the advantages that will come with 3D printing. Besides printing prosthetics - a technology available now - physical models will be available for study. Such models of a scanned area being studied for surgery can provide critical information to the surgeon that imaging can't provide. Furthermore, recreating examples of diseased tissue and organs opens up new possibilities for training that simply don't exist yet.

It's impossible to overestimate the importance of medical imaging. As advances in 3D imaging and 3D printing continue to be made in the field of medicine, you'll be seeing the results at medical diagnostic imaging centers in Suffolk County, NY.