Cancer Patient Receives 3D Printed Ribs in World First Surgery
Monday, January 30, 2023
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The news was announced by Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane on September 11, 2015. And the news is good, 12 days after the surgery the patient was discharged and has recovered well. This isn't the first time surgeons have turned the human body into a titanium masterpiece. Thoracic surgeons typically use flat and plate implants for the chest. However, these can come loose over time and increase the risk of complications. The patient's surgical team at the Salamanca University Hospital thought a fully customised 3D printed implant could replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs, providing a safer option for the patient. Using high resolution CT data, the Anatomics team was able to create a 3D reconstruction of the chest wall and tumour, allowing the surgeons to plan and accurately define resection margins. We were then called on to print the sternum and rib cage. The sternum (the central piece) and the rib cages emanating from it, have been designed using precise scans to perfectly fit in the patient's chest after he had sections removed. The sternum (the central piece) and the rib cages emanating from it, have been designed using precise scans to perfectly fit in the patient's chest after he had sections removed.  As you could imagine, the 3D printer at Officeworks wasn't quite up to this challenge. Instead, we relied on our $1.3 million Arcam printer to build up the implant layer-by-layer with its electron beam, resulting in a brand new implant which was promptly couriered to Spain.

This Video Explains How it all Works

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    The advantage of 3D printing is its rapid prototyping. When you're waiting for life-saving surgery this is the definitely the order of the day. We are no strangers to biomedical applications of 3D printing: in the past we have used our know-how to create devices like the 3D printed heel-bone, or the 3D printed mouth-guard for sleep apnoea suffers. When it comes to using 3D printing for biomedical applications, it seems that we are just scratching the surface of what's possible. So, we're keen to partner with biomedical manufacturers to see how we can help solve more unique medical challenges.