Doctors in Xi’an, China, used 3D-printed titanium body parts to replace cancer-ridden bones in patients, reported China Daily. In three different cases, doctors were able to print and implant prostheses of a collar bone, a shoulder bone, and the right ilium of the pelvis.
All three patients were afflicted by malign tumors on their bones that threatened to kill them if not removed. Since the bones were not broken or cracked before the operation, using computer imaging, doctors were able to scan, then print an exact titanium replica of the patients’ bones. Using titanium has many advantages: it allows for 3D-printing because the titanium powder can be fused using laser sintering technology; it also allows more freedom to the designers to reduce the weight and density of the bone and create a more even surface texture.
One more interesting advantage of using 3D printing for prosthetics is the cost effectiveness According to Doctor Guo Zheng from the Xijing Hospital of the Fourth Military Medical University, the 3D-printed bones cost approximately half the price that traditional bone implants do. He also cited the fact that 3D-printed prosthetics are much quicker to produce than the traditional molding technique used. Finally, since titanium is a very durable and light metal, it’s possible for designers to create porous bones, as opposed to the smooth surfaces of the traditional prosthetics, This promotes muscle, bone and soft tissue growth around the implant.
According to Doctor Guo, all three patients have recovered, two months after their respective surgeries. The Surgeries were performed on March 27th and April 3rd. According to Pei Guoxian, director of the orthopedics clinic of Xijing Hospital,
“The operations to implant the titanium prostheses into the patients repaired the bone defects in different body parts and solved the worldwide problem of individual reconstruction for bone loss after the removal of bone tumors from complex body parts.”
In other news, surgeons in Shanghai, China, used the 3D-printed model of a fractured pelvis to practice executing a complex surgery before performing it on a patient. Doctors said that the model of the fractured pelvis included all of the patient’s fractures and dislocations and was very similar to the real pelvis. The patient is expected to walk again in about three months, after the complicated surgery was performed with relative ease. This was not the first time surgeons have used 3D printed replicas of body parts to better understand the details of a surgery. They have used such technology with lung and heart surgeries in the past as well. A video explaining just how 3D printing was able to simplify this traditionally complicated pelvic surgery can be seen below. Discuss this story in the ‘3D printed bone implant’ forum thread at 3DPB.com.