The Radiological Society of North America and the American College of Radiology have teamed up to establish a registry that will gather clinical data at the point of care on medical 3D printing.
Radiologists hope the findings will help in evaluating appropriate use of the technology and its place in clinical decision making, which has been difficult given the diversity of clinical indications and different, complex technologies used to create surgical guides from medical images.
RSNA and ACR are setting up the registry with financial support from companies involved in 3D printing, including HP.
Examples of healthcare professionals using 3D printers date back more than a decade, resulting in the technology already being well established in some niches. In craniomaxillofacial care, for instance, 3D printing is viewed as a central to patient care by many providers, founding chair of the RSNA 3D Printing Special Interest Group Frank Rybicki said in the announcement. 3D printing emerged in these niche applications without current procedural terminology codes.
Professional bodies began the process of formalizing the use of 3D printing last year by getting approval for four new CPT codes covering the use of 3D printing to create anatomic models and guides. That experience revealed the limitations of the ad hoc way 3D printing has gained a foothold in healthcare.
"When applying for CPT codes, it became clear that this 'general acceptance' lacked peer-reviewed literature to demonstrate value," Rybicki said.
Rybicki and his collaborators are looking to the registry to supply data that benchmarks the value of 3D printing in radiology. The registry is designed to centralize data on the clinical value of 3D printing. Currently, assessments of the value of 3D printing are hindered by the diversity of clinical indications and technologies for generating models from medical images.
The analyses that are available suggest there is value in printing 3D models of medical images, although the evidence comes from small studies. In a 15-subject study, the use of patient-specific 3D models in surgical planning cut surgical time by around 40 minutes and reduced fluoroscopy time by more than 25%.
HP and fellow medical 3D printing companies Formlabs, Materialise and Stratasys will support the registry through unrestricted grants. ACR will use the funding to host the registry on its National Radiology Data Registry, which already houses six registries featuring data on 150 million cases from more than 6,500 participant sites.
The 3D printing registry will join those other data repositories when the pilot gets underway in the fall. A joint ACR-RSNA committee will govern the registry.