Zortrax has developed a device to assist physicians in the surgical removal of varicose veins. The winch, which facilitates the procedure and reduces the risk of complications, was developed with 3D printing technology. The casing and numerous elements of the device were printed on the Zortrax M200 3D printer. The new device has already been used in several operations performed at the MEDIQ clinic in Legionowo near Warsaw.

Constant laser and movement speed

Endovascular removal of failing lower limb veins is an innovative procedure. Opposed to traditional methods, it does not leave scars and provides for a very short healing time. The patients do not experience any bruises or the previously common walking problems. The procedure sees the optic fibre laser enter the veins and close the vessels from the inside. Even though this method has numerous advantages, it requires great skill and composure from the physician. Laser vein treatment requires uniform movement of the optic fibre. This procedure has to be performed manually. If the fibre is removed too slowly or too quickly from the vein, it may cause skin discolouration, hypodermis irritation, and even burns. The physician must adjust the movement of the fibre to the strength of the laser – the usual speed of such movement is approximately 1 mm/sec., i.e. it takes about 10 minutes to remove about 60 cm of optic fibre and the surgeon must maintain complete focus throughout this entire time.

The first such device

The winch will be the first such device on the market. The device was designed and developed by Zortrax engineer Robert Klaczyński in cooperation with Marcin Feliga, MD of the MEDIQ clinic in Legionowo near Warsaw. The casing and numerous elements of the device were printed on the Zortrax M200 3D printer. This method allowed the engineer to design and test the prototype and ultimately 3d print out numerous elements of the final product. The device is designed to not damage the optic fibre when it is being removed from the vein, provides sure and stable movement with uniform speed, and can be sterilised with ease. Zortrax has filed for patents on both the Polish and international markets.

The winch is helping already

The device has already been tested during several operations at the MEDIQ clinic in Legionowo near Warsaw. It is used by Marcin Feliga, MD, one of Poland's top specialists with many years of experience in treating conditions associated with vein insufficiency.

"The human factor is unreliable. The process of closing the vein properly requires the right laser strength applied to the appropriate vein length. We're tired, we perform a lot of operations, and there is a risk of removing the optic fibre too quickly or too slowly," Marcin Feliga, MD said. "The winch operates much like a ski lift. It removes the optic fibre from the vein with the same speed and over the same time and makes 100% sure that it is closed properly. The device has diametrically changed our operations, we have an almost 100% frequency of proper vein closing. Meanwhile, global statistics fall between 80 and 85 percent," he added.

Zortrax for medicine

There have been numerous instances of 3D printing use in medicine, from the printing of limb prosthetics to 3D models of internal organs prepared before operations. However, such processes usually require expensive technologies. The varicose vein closing winch was created on the Zortrax M200 3D printer – a small desktop device, which is not expensive for businesses.

"The Zortrax M200 3D printer was designed for engineers, architects, and everyone requiring a reliable and inexpensive device for quick prototype development and limited serial production," said Rafał Tomasiak, the Zortrax CEO and designer of the printer. "Our unique approach to the printing environment, which is composed of not just the 3D printer but also our original software and dedicated printing materials, has made the M200 into a machine with precision sufficient for medical application. This makes us glad, because our new 3D printer – Inventure, which will soon be revealed – will provide even more precision and have even more applications in this field of science," Rafał Tomasiak adds.