A 3D Way to Help


Dr. Justin Daggett’s 3D-Printing is changing the way patients understand their child’s diagnoses

Yes, Dr. Daggett is holding a child’s skull. Don’t worry, it’s not real; though it’s closer than you might think. It’s a high-fidelity 3D-printed replica, one of many that Dr. Justin Daggett can create in the scope of his practice at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

“I actually spent my first few years out of fellowship over in Kenya, the Mission Hospital, and we had no access to replacement parts,” says Dr. Daggett. “So I bought a 3D printer and started learning how to do it all myself, so we could print replacement parts, print models, all those sorts of things.”

It’s not just replacement parts that can be printed, either. While 3D-printed implants are not yet approved by the FDA, Dr. Daggett says, models of body parts, like the child’s skull, serve other useful purposes, for instance as visual aids for the parents of his young patients who often don’t have much experience with their child’s healthcare. They also make for good visual aids for other doctors. A 3D print made from a scan of a patient can allow a surgeon, for instance, to better prepare for the operation.

“It really is amazing,” says Dr. Daggett. “It has really changed the sort of precision of care we can offer to our kids.”

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