3-D technology is introducing a new era in medicine, influencing examinations, reconstructive procedures, and much more. In the area of medical visualization, computers are now being used to create 3-D images from medical imaging data sets. This is a recent development in medical sciences that strongly relies on improvements in computing and future technologies.
Despite their newness, these techniques have already started to revolutionize medicine. What we perceive as modern medicine is based on 3-D imaging, possible with magnetic resonance imaging and CT scanners, computed tomography scanners that compose 3-D images out of 2-D slides.
Nowadays, almost all surgery and cancer treatment relies on 3-D technology to some extent, but there are huge disparities in the access of these techniques between developed and non-developed countries.
3-D Technology and Breast Cancer
In the diagnosis of breast cancer, 3-D mammography, also named Tomosynthesis, is helping radiologists to get a clear view of breast tissues, since the technology decreases the effect of over lapping areas.
The combination of breast cancer screening with 3-D mammography and a conventional mammogram introduces higher possibilities for cancer detection, when compared to a traditional mammography. Investigation also reveals that tomosynthesis improves breast cancer detection with a significant reduction in recall rates.
During a 3-D mammography, several low-dose images of the breast are acquired at different angles. The collected images will then be used to produce a series of one-millimeter thick slice that will allow radiologists to analyze a 3-D reconstruction of the breast.
It’s believed that providing the latest technology in mammography will increase the number women routinely screened for breast cancer and lead to early and more accurate detections. Numbers show that 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lifetime. The stage at which breast cancer is detected influences their probabilities of survival. According to the American Cancer Society, the five-year survival rate is 98% when detected early.
3-D Printing and Reconstructive Medicine
Another use for this technology is 3-D printing, which may turn out to be an important tool in reconstructive medicine, for example, in breast reconstruction after a lumpectomy. Of the many uses for 3-D printing technology, one of the most important is its ability to be used to improve living standards, and possibly prolong life expectancy. With the exciting progress in 3-D printing, the human body might someday be thought of as a system of interchangeable parts.
Some companies, like the biotech startup TeVido BioDevices LLC, in Texas, are trying to develop innovative 3-D printing processes in the field of reconstructive medicine for breast cancer patients. For example, investigators at TeVido BioDevices aim to fabricate breast tissue using women’s own fat cells, shaping a new way for breast reconstructions after a lumpectomy. A product such as thiswould become an alternative to the series of fat injections women have to go through after lumpectomies.