The medical community has embraced 3D printing technology at such a rapid rate that even we are surprised by some of the applications sprouting up as of late. Back in November of last year, we reported on a group of Chinese surgeons who implanted a 3D printed titanium pelvic prosthetic into a 62-year-old patient who had suffered from bone cancer. The surgery went well, and now it appears as if South Korean surgeons may have been taking note.
A teenage girl in South Korea had been experiencing severe back pain while walking. After holding off on visiting her doctor until July of last year, when she finally did, the news was not good. The girl was diagnosed with one of the most common forms of bone cancer, typically found in children and young adults between the ages of 10 and 20. The disease usually begins in the longer bones of the body, and if not treated and removed, could spread to the vital organs such as the lungs.
This is where Professor of Neurosurgery at Yonsei University, located in Seoul, South Korea, Dr Shen Tongya and his team came to the rescue. After initially trying more traditional treatments, and after discussions with radiation oncology and orthopedic bone specialists, Tongya and his team felt that complete removal of the tumor would be best. Since the patient was so young, surgeons had to take into account the importance of her mobility. Dr. Tongya decided next to look into possibly 3D printing a bone replacement, and thus turned to several companies to find the best option. Ultimately that’s the direction the surgeons decided to take, which meant that this would be the very first 3D printed pelvic implantation to take place in South Korea.
The 3D printing was actually the easy part. It was the actual procedure which would be a bit of a challenge. So in March of this year, after a total of six hours in the operating room, in comparison to the typical 8-9 hours that such a procedure would take had a non-customized implant been used, the surgery was completed successfully. In fact, the patient was up and walking just a week after the procedure, whereas patients receiving implants which were not 3D printed typically take a month before they’re able to walk on their own.
“The patient’s spine looks exactly how it should, thanks to the custom prosthetic implant. She has made a quick recovery and shape of her spine has been preserved,” said Dr. Tongya. ” There is no future pain expected for the patient as she will continue her regular checkups to make sure the malignant tumor has not metastasized.”
As 3D printing slowly inches its way into mainstream medical use, applications such as this one will continue to improve patient recovery and shorten the time required to perform such procedures. Let us know your thoughts on yet another medical marvel thanks to 3D printing. Discuss in the 3D Printed Pelvis forum thread on 3DPB.com.