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Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016 Sep;87(9):806-10. doi: 10.3357/AMHP.4281.2016.

3D Printed Surgical Instruments Evaluated by a Simulated Crew of a Mars Mission.

Author information

1
Center for Innovative Technologies and Public Health, Toronto, ON, Canada.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

The first space-based fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer became operational in 2014. This study evaluated whether Mars simulation crewmembers of the Hawai'i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) II mission with no prior surgical experience could utilize acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) thermoplastic surgical instruments FDM 3D printed on Earth to complete simulated surgical tasks.

METHODS:

This study sought to examine the feasibility of using 3D printed surgical tools when the primary crew medical officer is incapacitated and the back-up crew medical officer must conduct a surgical procedure during a simulated extended space mission. During a 4 mo duration ground-based analog mission, five simulation crewmembers with no prior surgical experience completed 16 timed sets of simulated prepping, draping, incising, and suturing tasks to evaluate the relative speed of using four ABS thermoplastic instruments printed on Earth compared to conventional instruments.

RESULTS:

All four simulated surgical tasks were successfully performed using 3D printed instruments by Mars simulation crewmembers with no prior surgical experience. There was no substantial difference in time to completion of simulated tasks with control vs. 3D printed sponge stick, towel clamp, scalpel handle, and toothed forceps.

DISCUSSION:

These limited findings support further investigation into the creation of an onboard digital catalog of validated 3D printable surgical instrument design files to support autonomous, crew-administered healthcare on Mars missions. Future work could include addressing sterility, biocompatibility, and having astronaut crew medical officers test a wider range of surgical instruments printed in microgravity during actual surgical procedures. Wong JY, Pfahnl AC. 3D printed surgical instruments evaluated by a simulated crew of a Mars mission. Aerosp Med Hum Perform. 2016; 87(9):806-810.

PMID:
27634701
DOI:
10.3357/AMHP.4281.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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