So if one hand washes the other, a 3D printed titanium replica of one foot saves the other. How does that grab you? Len Chandler, 71, of Australia, may have been skeptical at first, but he is already able to bear half his weight on his newly built foot, thanks to a team of very resourceful doctors and scientists.
Diagnosed with cartilage cancer in the spring, Chandler was referred to Professor Peter Choong, surgeon at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne, Australia. Choong was known to be working with 3D printing, and while he had studied procedures using the technology for ‘non-weight bearing’ parts of the anatomy, he believed the use of 3D printing could save Chandler from amputation. A tumor had invaded Chandler’s calcaneus, which is quite simply, the heel bone. A large bone, serving as the foundation for the back of the foot, it connects with the talus and cuboid bones, and the Achilles tendon is attached to it.
With an extremely small percentage of body tumors occurring in the calcaneus, this was a rare case all around, with the likely scenario for most patients in this situation being the loss of one’s leg below the knee.
Lucky for Len, the medical profession is showing signs of exhibiting a pretty good comfort level with turning to the technology of 3D printing for trying new things that might sound far fetched to their patients at first. What is impressive for all is his progress. If his recovery continues like it has been, then a wonderful Christmas gift of no crutches may be in his very near future.
“I didn’t know how good it was going to be. I don’t think Prof. Choong knew how good I’d be—but I’m going very well,” Mr. Chandler said. “Prof. Choong said we could take the risk, and I had nothing to lose. I was hesitant and I didn’t know whether it would work, but I had to try it.”
It took a team of open-minded doctors and scientists to save Chandler’s foot:
- St Vincent’s Hospital surgeon Prof. Peter Choong and his medical team
- Melbourne biotech company Anatomics
- CSIRO – The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), which is Australia’s government science research agency, and one of the largest in the world.
“Science advances have allowed us to consider 3D printing of bones and we were able to get information from Len’s foot and use that to tell the computers precisely how big his foot is, and reproduce that using the new 3D technology,” Prof Choong said. “Going from the possibility of an amputation to where you preserve the limb on account of one (replacement) bone is rewarding if you can achieve it.”
By scanning Chandler’s perfectly healthy left foot, Professor Peter Choong and his team in Melbourne, Australia were able to make a 3D scan for the right foot in preparation for sending the data to Melbourne-based implant manufacturer Anatomics, where they created a design for a new heel bone for Chandler. CSIRO experts came onto the scene with their high tech Arcam 3D printer, which manufactured a titanium heel implant from the design.
CSIRO spokesman John Barns said: “Prof Choong was really taking the risk and Anatomics were coming up with the design, and we were willing to back them up.”
Throughout the ages, those involved in medicine have operated on the cutting edge—because often it is a last resort, or something comes along that instills great confidence in those busy saving lives and limbs. The technology of 3D scanning and printing is making an imprint in history, and in the lives of individuals who could have seen a very different outcome. What do you think about this latest medical breakthrough? Share your thoughts with us in the 3D Printed Heel Bone forum at 3DPB.com.
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Stay up-to-date on all the latest news from the 3D printing industry and receive information and offers from third party vendors.
You May Also Like
Printing Money Emergency Broadcast: Stratasys and Desktop Metal to Merge in All-stock Deal
In what is shaping up to be the biggest deal in the 3D printing industry of 2023, Stratasys and Desktop Metal will combine to form a $1.8 billion company. Alex...
Printing Money Episode 4: Current VC Deals & More with Arno Held, AM Ventures Managing Partner
Arno Held, Managing Partner of AM Ventures, joins Alex and Danny for an episode heavily focused on recent VC deals, from series A to C+ across the globe, including ARRIS...
3DPOD Episode 152: Binder Jetting Flexible Materials with Chris Tuck, Reactive Fusion Founder
Chris Tuck is an entrepreneur and Nottingham University professor playing an outsized role in commercializing and researching new 3D printing technologies. He’s made a number of breakthroughs in binder jet,...
3DPOD Episode 151: Large Format Polymer 3D Printing with Max Heres, Loci Robotics
Before starting Loci Robotics, Max Heres had a storied history beginning with the study of polymer physics before working as a graduate research assistant at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and...
Upload your 3D Models and get them printed quickly and efficiently.