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chinhipfeaturedThe medical uses of 3D printing are continuing to grow at a rapid rate. Whether it is using the technology to actually 3D print prostheses, or using it to create surgical guides and models prior to surgery, 3D printing is well on its way to being used in hospitals all around the world. While the United States and much of Western Europe have been at the forefront of medical 3D printing, one country that certainly could be right up there with the leaders is China. It seems as though we report on another successful story coming out of this Asian nation on a weekly basis, and today is no different.

Doctors at the Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Xinjiang Medical University, a huge 569,200 square foot facility, have now completed a hip replacement surgery, with the help of 3D printing.

Zhao and the medical team

Zhao and the medical team

A 42-year-old woman, named Ms. Zhao, who lives in Jimsar County, in Xinjiang, China, had been suffering from severe hip pain. In fact, 3 years ago the pain began to become so severe that she could hardly walk any longer. She had gone from hospital to hospital, looking for a solution, but could not find anything that would ease the pain. One hospital even completely misdiagnosed her as having a herniated disc in her spine. However, earlier this month, Zhao visited the Fifth Affiliate Hospital and to her excitement found a doctor who could help.

Liu Depeng, director of the hospital’s orthopedics department, found that Zhao, who had a significant limp to her walk, was suffering from congenital displocaiton of the hip.

“She had articular surface wear to her hip and was in serious condition,” Depeng explained.

This picture shows the normal hip

This picture shows the normal hip

The normal structure that made up the concave surface on Zhao’s pelvis, called the acetabulum, had virtually be eaten away. This caused her leg to be 3cm shorter than it should have been, thus throwing off her entire body alignment, and causing significant pain. Depeng used high-resolution CT scanners which were able to be loaded into computers and generate a 3-dimensional reconstruction of Zhao’s pelvis. Then, using a 3D printer, a 1:1 scale replica of her entire pelvis was printed out.

Previously, prior to the use of 3D printing, all surgeries would have been conducted using only 2D photos taken from CT scans and MRIs as reference points. Thanks to 3D printing though, doctors now had a virtual copy of Zhao’s entire pelvis, sitting in front of them. This allowed for precise surgical planning, and it provided a guide for surgeons during the operation.

“Using this computer-aided 3D model design, you can clearly visualize the preoperative surgical site, to develop the most scientific and reasonable surgical options,” said Liu Depeng. “Intraoperative 3D guide plates can be used to assist precise positioning to ensure the accuracy of the surgery.”

This picture shows the preoperative three-dimensional reconstruction

This picture shows the preoperative three-dimensional reconstruction

The surgery, which was deemed a success, is expected to now allow Zhao to walk pain free, without any noticeable limp. She will remain in the hospital for another 15 days, to ensure that everything is healing up property prior to being discharged. The surgery, which  obviously provided for much better results than more traditional operations, costs just 10-20% more.

What do you think about this incredible surgery? Discuss in the 3D Printed Hip Surgery forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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