Back to Top Skip to main content

Medical tools, supplies 3D printed in desert deployment

Army Lt. Col. Jason Barnhill, a faculty member of West Point and the Uniformed Services University’s Department of Radiology, poses for a photo with a 3D printer capable of biofabrication that could expedite repair or perhaps replace damaged tissues for troops injured on the battlefield. (Courtesy photo) Army Lt. Col. Jason Barnhill, a faculty member of West Point and the Uniformed Services University’s Department of Radiology, poses for a photo with a 3D printer capable of biofabrication that could expedite repair or perhaps replace damaged tissues for troops injured on the battlefield. (Courtesy photo)

Recommended Content:

Technology

The ability to 3D print a variety of healthcare-related products in deployed locations would greatly benefit the nation’s warfighters.

A recent pilot program conducted by the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU) in collaboration with the U.S. Military Academy at West Point has shown that a 3D printer capable of biofabrication could expedite repair or perhaps replace damaged tissues for troops injured on the battlefield. This advancement could potentially change the way care deployed warfighters receive care.

The pilot program, called Fabrication in Austere Environments, or Fab AE, was developed by USU’s 4-Dimensional Bioprinting, Biofabrication, and Biomanufacturing Program (4D Bio3). 4D Bio3 is a federally-funded program to develop new technologies to support medical treatment and training solutions for warfighters.

The Fab AE initiative is a collaborative effort between USU, West Point, and The Geneva Foundation, along with NScrypt and Techshot, and sought to demonstrate whether 3D printers could be forward-deployed into desert environments to fabricate medical products in austere settings where resources may be limited. The ruggedized 3D printer was sent to an undisclosed desert location with basic supplies and human mesenchymal stem/stromal cells (hMSCs), the only cells that allow for same-day bioprinting.

On site, Army Lt. Col. Jason Barnhill, a faculty member of West Point and USU’s Department of Radiology, led the project. Under his direction, the 3D printer successfully fabricated a number of products, including a scalpel capable of immediate use; and a hemostat, a surgical tool used to control bleeding during surgery and capable of gripping objects, while locking them into place to hold tissue or other medical implements. The tools were made of material that could be sterilized on site, reducing the chance of infection during practical use.

Barnhill was also able to develop bioactive bandages by printing a hydrogel layer of antibiotics over a structural layer, all within just five minutes. The bandages were designed to slowly release antibiotics into the wound, prolonging the suppression of bacteria for several days. The bacterial suppression and actual bandage design could also be tailored, using CT data, to alter the amount antibiotic concentration as needed.

Additionally, the 3D printer fabricated a surgical model of a T9 vertebrae, one of the lower thoracic spinal vertebrae that provides structural support for the spinal cord. Fractures of the lower thoracic spine may result in paraplegia, and/or loss of bowel/bladder control. The image for this surgical model was obtained from medical scans, and while it could not be implanted in a patient, it would be invaluable to on-site surgeons, helping them to visualize musculoskeletal injuries and determine the best course of surgical intervention.

The 3D bioprinter was also able to produce a meniscus, cartilage in the knee that acts as a shock absorber. The image used to print the meniscus was sent as an electronic file from a stateside facility to the remote environment, and printed on location – the first demonstration of cyber manufacturing where complex designs were transmitted and produced in a remote location.

In parallel to this initiative, a 3D printer had previously been sent to the International Space Station where astronauts are currently running similar 3D printing experiments. The hope is to send the printer aboard one of the Navy’s hospital ships, the USNS Mercy.

“We believe this program has the potential to reduce logistical challenges and costs for transporting medical supplies to austere environments, which could also be applied to our special operations forces in remote locations. Instead of carrying tons of supplies, they could just print them using a, hopefully, more portable, light-weight version in the future that could fit in their pack,” said Dr. Vincent Ho, director of USU’s 4D Bio3, principal investigator for the FAB AE initiative, and chair of USU’s Department of Radiology. “3D printing provides the ability to produce tailored health care solutions that meet the specific needs of the warfighter deployed to austere locations. The ability to build health-related products in near real time when and where needed enhances operational flexibility for our commanders in the field. As we continue to meet the needs of our nation’s warfighters, this pilot project is also the first step in manufacturing health care products on-site to help identify and treat battlefield injuries and medical conditions.”

Disclaimer: Re-published content may be edited for length and clarity. Read original post.

You also may be interested in...

DHA improves financial efficiency with consolidated funding system

Article
11/20/2020
Soldier wearing mask, marking items off in supply room

The conversions enable GFEBS financial structure and funding control by the DHA.

Recommended Content:

Technology

Walter Reed, VA focus on joint efforts in 3D medical application

Article
11/9/2020
Three physicians wearing masks; one sitting at a desk, two standing

The JIF award focuses on the Department of Defense/VA 3D Printing Consortium for Medical Applications.

Recommended Content:

Research and Innovation | Technology

DHA IPM 18-017: Military Health System (MHS) Information Technology (IT) Investment Management Framework

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the guidance of References (d) through (v), establishes Defense Health Agency's (DHA) procedures to: .Establish the overarching guidance to implement policies and procedures for managing DHA Deputy Assistant Director, Information Operations (DAD IO)/J-6Defense Health Program (DHP) IT resources. The DHA Investment Management Framework is used as an enabler for MHS leadership to make informed transparent financial decisions associated with the DHA DAD IO/J-6 systems, services, and capabilities and will continue to be used in the foreseeable future.

  • Identification #: 18-017
  • Date: 11/7/2020
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

Military Health podcasts provide resources for patients and providers

Article
11/6/2020
Hands holding a smartphone with the Living Beyond Pain podcast playing on the device.

Podcasts have become an increasingly popular way of getting information.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Pain Management | Connected Health

BAMC, Argentine Army medical providers share COVID-19 best practices

Article
11/4/2020
Video teleconference image

U.S. Army South facilitated the virtual subject matter expert (SME) exchange between BAMC and CMMH.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Global Health Engagement | Technology | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Public Health | Convalescent Plasma Collection Program

‘Virtual Ward’ pilot program to reduce hospital stay time

Article
10/30/2020
Man's arm with blood pressure cuff and fingertip pulse oximeter

"The idea is that instead of staying in hospital longer..., patients are released early and can recover in the comfort and privacy of their homes."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Technology | Coronavirus | Public Health

Theater Enterprise-Wide Logistics Systems (TEWLS)

Fact Sheet
10/29/2020

TEWLS consolidates numerous military logistics functions into a single application and database.

Recommended Content:

Medical Logistics | Technology | Solution Delivery Division

Joint Medical Asset Repository (JMAR)

Fact Sheet
10/29/2020

JMAR provides 24/7 access to medical asset information for users, on any computer

Recommended Content:

Medical Logistics | Technology | Solution Delivery Division

DHA IPM 18-015: Cybersecurity Program Management

Policy

This Defense Health Agency-Interim Procedures Memorandum (DHA-IPM), based on the authority of References (a) through (c), and in accordance with the requirements of References (d) through (y): • Establishes the Defense Health Agency’s (DHA) procedures to implement and maintain a DHA Cybersecurity Program for the Military Health System (MHS) to protect and defend DHA information and Information Technology (IT). • Is effective immediately; it will be converted into DHA-Procedural Instruction (DHA-PI), “Cybersecurity Program Management.” This DHA-IPM will expire effective 12 months from the date of issue.

  • Identification #: 18-015
  • Date: 10/28/2020
  • Type: DHA Interim Procedures Memorandum
  • Topics: Technology

Essentris®

Fact Sheet
10/26/2020

The military’s inpatient electronic health record is used in acute hospital environments, providing point-of-care data capture at the patient’s bedside for physiological devices, fetal/uterine devices, ventilators and other patient care machines.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) Program Office | Solution Delivery Division

AHLTA Web Print

Fact Sheet
10/26/2020

AHLTA Web Print (AWP) is an application embedded in the AHLTA client workstation that provides the ability to print a patient’s entire AHLTA medical record or a subset, eliminating the need to print each AHLTA encounter or result separately.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) Program Office | Solution Delivery Division

Composite Health Care System

Fact Sheet
10/26/2020

The Composite Health Care System (CHCS) allows clinicians to electronically perform patient appointment processes and scheduling, order laboratory tests, authorize radiology procedures and prescribe medications.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Solution Delivery Division

AHLTA 3.3

Fact Sheet
10/26/2020

AHLTA 3.3, a major component of the military’s electronic health record, is the primary clinical information system used by the military’s medical community to help generate, maintain, store and securely access data for 9.5 million beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Technology | Federal Electronic Health Record Modernization (FEHRM) Program Office | Solution Delivery Division

Defense Health Agency celebrates seven years of service

Article
10/1/2020
Lt. Gen. Ronald Place holding a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery

Seven ways DHA has improved military readiness over the years.

Recommended Content:

Defense Health Agency | Coronavirus | MHS Transformation | Technology | Global Health Engagement | TRICARE Health Program | Total Force Fitness

TOL Patient Portal Secure Messaging

Fact Sheet
9/29/2020

TRICARE Online Patient Portal (TOLPP) Secure Messaging (SM) provides Military Health System patients who receive care at a military treatment facility or clinic access to a robust messaging capability, allowing authorized patients the ability to securely communicate with their health care team.

Recommended Content:

Technology
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 1 - 15 Page 1 of 8

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.