Advancements in the medical field have shown that 3D printing can be proficiently applied to many added value clinical applications. These include planning of a complex reconstruction in neurosurgery or improving the accuracy of custom-made implants for orthopedic reconstructions. The use of 3D printed surgical guides can reduce the time of surgery and enhance outcome. BRECA Health Care, a start up based in Granada, Spain is pioneering the design and manufacturing of custom-made medical devices with many patients treated worldwide during the last 7 years.
One of the new applications that the company has successfully validated during the last year is the use of 3D printing for pediatric neurosurgery reconstruction. Using patient-specific surgical guides, this practice first helped neurosurgeons cut the time of the surgery by half. It also significantly increased the treatment’s accuracy. BRECA’s CEO Josè Manuel Baena reports that it has been validated in 10 patients and the outcomes so far have been impressive.
“In BRECA Health Care we are committed to bringing to patients new technologies that can improve the outcomes or offer a solution in the areas that remain untreated. 3D printing is one of those technologies. I have been working on custom made implants for over 10 years. In the case of craniosynostosis surgical guides, it is incredible how an easy and cost-effective product can add that much value to the surgeons. There are still hundreds of applications based on 3D printing to be developed that can help patients.” Baena said.
The flexibility of 3D printing allows designers to make changes easily without the need to set up additional equipment or tools. It also enables manufacturers to create devices that mimic a patient’s anatomy (patient-specific medical devices) or devices with complex internal structures. These capabilities have sparked huge interest in the 3D printing of medical devices as prostheses, implants, surgical guides. Even biomodels with living tissues are possible when adding biological compounds in the field of bioprinting.
The company is also pioneering the introduction of 3D printed biodegradable medical devices by means of a cooperation with bioprinter manufacturer REGEMAT3D, also founded by Mr. Baena.
“In the past if you wanted to do a reconstruction using biomaterials that biodegrade, you were restricted by the geometry and performance of sized medical devices. Now with 3D printing you can offer a customized solution combining a synthetic medical device with a biodegradable bioprinted one and even autologous cells of the patient to enhance the regeneration. Even if you could create in the lab a functional tissue, the integration with the surrounding tissues is not going to occur instantly. A custom made synthetic medical device will help to hold the structure and promote the integration of the bioprinted living tissue. There is a lot of opportunities and applications of bioprinting and 3D printing in the short term, even without the printing of living cells” Baena said.
BRECA also uses other manufacturing technologies to develop its products. The first implants were metallic, last year they started to implant synthetic polymers. In the nearly future they plan to offer also the biodegradable medical devices. The company is based in Granada, Spain and was founded in 2011 to bring to patients new treatments based on emerging technologies as 3D printing. BRECA’s products have been registered in the EU, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico. The company is in the process of being incorporated in the USA.
“Although 3D printing is not a new technology, the impact on patients is increasing rapidly now and still a lot of new application in health care have to emerge. I think in the future custom made medical devices will be present in all the surgical procedures” Baena said.