Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Materialise and Belgium Specialist Return Full Functionality to Boy’s Arm Using 3D Printed Implants

ST Medical Devices

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A young boy in Belgium has the use of his forearm back thanks to the recent alliance between hand-specialist Dr. Frederik Verstreken, and Materialise, a corporate pioneer in the medical applications of 3D printing.

Frederik VerstrekenIn a heart lifting and truly successful breakthrough, Materialise and Dr. Frederik Verstreken teamed up to make 3D printed custom implants to help children with improperly healed forearm fractures. They are able to take improperly healed forearm fractures that deteriorated to a handicapped status back to fully functioning limbs.  This was the case with a seven-year-old boy named Joos, whose parents took him to see Dr. Verstreken at Monica Hospital in Antwerp, Belgium, as a last resort.

Upon having the boy’s cast removed after a double fracture to his forearm, medical specialists and Joos’ parents discovered his arm had healed improperly and was all but rendered completely nonfunctioning. They were told there was “nothing they could do.” With the stubborn will, that most parents have, to see their children whole again, they pressed on and met with Dr. Verstreken.

boy

Verstreken was able to use Materialise’s technology, including 3D surgical planning solutions and 3D printed, patient-specific surgical guides, as well as Mobelife’s 3-D printed, custom-made titanium implants to perform an osteotomy, which is a procedure where the surgeon removes a wedge of bone near a damaged joint.

 Dr Versreken, who has since performed similar surgeries on four other children, remarked: “These cases were so difficult and complex that it would not have been possible to obtain a successful reconstruction using conventional techniques.”boy-1

Accounting for 40-50% of all childhood fractures, forearm fractures are quite simply a result of more force being applied to a bone than it can withstand. Forearm fractures can usually be treated without surgery, requiring six to eight weeks in a cast to heal. These fractures usually involve the wrist-end of the radius and are the result of active children experiencing falls, sports injuries, and other traumas. In the case of Joos, he fell on the playground—one of the most common ways children are injured. After his cast was removed, he was left with no feeling in his fingers, and the inability to perform even the slightest movements.

The stunning outcome of this surgery was that Joos went from being handicapped to fully functioning within six months. Everyone involved in the process was overjoyed—adding one more successful innovation to the long list of good that 3D printing is adding to the medical industry by allowing doctors and researchers to change the medical outcomes and quality of life for patients of all ages. Discuss this incredible use of 3D printing in the 3D printing and broken arm forum thread on 3DPB.com. Also, check out the brief video below discussing Joos’ story further.

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