The Future of 3D Printing and Joint Implants: Risk or Benefit?

By August 24, 2016Product Liability

Will St. Louis physicians use 3D Implants?

3d printing SignThree-dimensional printing sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but it is very real. These three dimensional printers are extremely impressive and can function in one of two ways:

  1. They can take a computer rendered image and cut out a design from a block of material – typically made from polymer.
  1. Sculpting something out of a piece of polymer.

Each of these designs can be customized to the needs of the patient. There is no construction run required – which means pieces that need to interlock can be created at the same time – creating a product ten times faster. Already there have been talks about using 3D printers to create artificial hip and knee joints. These will then be customized to the exact needs of the patient. If successful, there would be no issues of the metal or join links traditionally used, because the parts would be constructed together using a polymer base.

Is This Good or Bad for Patients?

As with any new technology, there will be risks. The biggest being that the polymer joints have not been adequately tested; therefore, no one is quite sure how well they will work at this point. While they can be customized to the patient, that doesn’t necessarily make them safe. The effectiveness of these new types of joints also depend on if they are designed and constructed properly. Also, there has not yet been enough testing to determine the long-term viability of these polymer joints. As most consumers have seen in the past, defective products occurs in the United States annually – and without proper testing, a product is almost guaranteed to have some flaws that can injure a patient.

Even if a surgeon implants the replacement well, the defective design could become loose, cause pain, fall apart inside the patient, or even lead to an infection. There have been numerous recalls of artificial knees and hip joints already – and those with defective components have to undergo major surgery to replace their defective component.

Victims Deserve Compensation

While the jury is still out on whether or not 3D printed replacements will be the new go-to technology, today, metal and other materials are used to create artificial hip and knee replacement joints. When a defectively designed component is used, the patient must undergo a second surgery and second recovery period. If you have a defective device and suffer injuries, you could have more extensive surgeries required, or be permanently disabled. You can hold manufacturers of those defective medical devices liable for their actions. Contact the attorneys at Carey, Danis & Lowe Attorneys at Law today to explore your options for compensation. Schedule a free consultation now at 877-678-3400 or ask a question online.