According to Lars Brouwers, MD, MSc, a physician and PhD-candidate performing research on 3D-printing in the hospital environment, when doctors use traditional x-ray and 2DCT diagnostic tools in complex bone fracture cases, the level of agreement between clinical observers is generally very low.

Dr. Brouwers and his colleagues measure this degree of consensus with a kappa score, where zero (0) equals total lack of agreement, and one (1) equals complete agreement. Their research team hopes to prove that using 3d-printing in the trauma department can significantly raise the kappa score between physicians handling complex fractures, as well as add value in other ways for all parts of the healthcare delivery and maintenance processes.

This research is being conducted at Elisabeth-TweeSteden Ziekenhuis (ETZ) in the Netherlands, a trauma center with surgeons and specially trained staff on-site 24-hours per day. The preliminary results have shown that both new and experienced surgeons can improve their collective kappa scores in acetabular fracture cases by two-to-three multiples if they utilize 3d-printer generated representations of the fracture in their diagnosis and planning.