The medical uses for 3D printing are truly limitless. Each and every day we are made aware of new and incredible uses for the various forms of 3D printing within the medical field. It’s not just doctors and surgeons in the United States who are utilizing the tremendous benefits this technology has to offer. We have seen it go to use in just about every continent on this planet, with China seemingly being one of the leaders within the field.
Doctors in China are at it yet again, utilizing 3D printing to come to the aid of a patient in dire need of a solution. Ms. Lu, a 62-year-old Chinese woman had been very active for her age. Whether it was playing badminton or table tennis, she was always quite the competitor. That is until recently, when she thought that she had experienced a sports injury related to her competitive nature. About six months ago she experienced pain in her right leg which she initially thought was a sprain, but when the pain came back even more severe two months ago, she had no choice but to go to the hospital. Upon arrival, doctors could not find the cause of her tremendous pain, pain that had taken this active woman and made her pretty much bedridden.
Finally Dean Professor Wang Jin-cheng, from the Department of Orthopedics at the Second Hospital of Jilin University, discovered that the pain was coming from Ms. Lu’s pelvic area. After further testing, they determined that Lu’s pain was the cause of a condition known as renal cell carcinoma bone metastases, a condition where cancer cells metastasize to healthy bone tissue. Usually this is an incurable condition which doctors can only treat the symptoms of by trying to reduce pain. The pain is usually severe, and Ms. Lu’s case was certainly no different.
Due to the location of the pelvic area, surgery is usually quite risky. Removing the bone will cause a large trauma, resulting in a lot bleeding, and potential further complications or even death. Professor Wang Jin-cheng and his team decided to use 3D printing in order to deal with Ms. Lu’s situation. In a 3-hour surgery they replaced the affected area within Lu’s pelvic region with a 3D printed titanium prosthesis.
The prosthesis was printed using a technology called electron beam melting (EBM), and because it was printed in titanium, Lu’s body was very acceptant of it. Titanium is one of those metals that the body rarely rejects, thus making it the perfect material to use in the creation of strong prosthesis. 3D printing allowed for the complete customization of this prosthesis, after CT scans were taken of Lu’s pelvis.
According to Wang Jin-cheng, China has been very proactive in their use of 3D printing within the medical field. He explained that they have used the technology for shoulder, knee and pelvic surgeries in the past, but this hospital is the first to use the technology for pelvic reconstruction surgery.
Lu is thankfully making a great recovery and is expected to be able to resume her everyday activities very soon, thanks in large part to Professor Wang Jin-cheng and the wonderful benefits of 3D printing technology.
What do you think about this latest surgery which was used to make the life of a woman otherwise bedridden, normal again? Discuss in the 3D printed hip replacement surgery forum thread on 3DPB.com.
(Thanks to Kitty Wang for aid in translation)