SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) – When it comes to incorporating technology into health care, Rady Children’s Hospital is constantly evolving.

Six months ago the hospital opened a 3D Innovation Lab where they can print 3D models of body parts like hearts and skulls.

What used to be an outsourced program has become a more centralized and local job. Dr. Justin Ryan, the lab’s director said, “We would have to go through the process of getting CAT scans, MRIs, create a 3D model on a computer and then send it to a company who would 3D print it. Whatever we can image, we can 3D print.”

Before becoming centralized a project could take a week to complete, but now that Rady’s has all the equipment in one place that time has been cut dramatically. While the results are better for patient care, doctors are also able to use models of different organs and body parts to study and prepare for surgery.

The models are also helpful when explaining a condition or procedure to a child and their family. “We color code them for families. This red is aorta, but if you don’t have a medical background, it could be challenging, but now I can bridge that gap,” said Dr. Ryan.

The lab has only been around for six months, but it is already growing. The printers have produced about 100 models for clinical care. There are currently five printers in the hospital and more are on the way. “The 3D Innovations Lab is trying to bring this technology to the entire institution,” said Dr. Ryan.

The models start around $200 to create. At this point insurance does not pay for the service, but it is available thanks to donations from supporters.