Doctors use 3D Printing to Straighten Severely Bent Legs & Perform Double Knee Replacement Surgery

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knee1Whether it is through the use of 3D printed medical models, 3D printed titanium implants, or other cutting edge technology, doctors and surgeons in China certainly are no slouches when it comes to finding solutions for their patients. This is seen yet again at the Handan General Orthopaedic Hospital in China, as surgeons have used 3D printing to repair a young male patient’s severely deformed legs.

The patient was admitted into the hospital with a condition known as genu varum deformity. This is a condition defined by the inward angulation of the distal segment of the knees, and is more frequently termed “bow legs”. The patient’s right leg had a varus deformity of 43 degrees, while the left was less severe with a 20 degree deformity. Not only were the deformities causing the young man issues with walking, but they were also causing a lot of pain and discomfort; pain that had been an issue for over 10 years.

This case was deemed extremely rare and very severe, leaving surgeons contemplating a logical solution. In the end, they ended up opting for double knee replacement surgery, but needed to find a way to ensure the complicated surgery would be a success. In doing so, they decided to 3D print replicas of the patient’s knees and legs in order to better aid in both planning for the surgery and explaining the procedure to the patient. At the same time, it allowed them to practice the surgery on the 3D printed version prior to undertaking the actual operation.

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Director of Physicians at the hospital, Han Shoujiang, who has performed over 2000 surgeries over the past 20 years, said that the 3D printed model was able to greatly improve surgical accuracy and ultimately the chances of success. It allowed them to ensure that they had lined the leg bones and knee replacements up precisely, providing the patient with an entirely straight new posture.

“High-tech 3D printing joint technology can advance surgery through mock procedures,” explained Shoujiang. “On the one hand it allows the surgeon to perform a simulated surgical procedure, repeatedly. On the other hand, it allows for customized patient-specific surgical instruments to be created via 3D models.”

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The surgery, which took place earlier this month, was deemed a complete success, with the young man able to walk pain free for the first time in 10 years. This is just one more shining example of how 3D printing is changing the landscape of the operating room. By allowing surgeons and doctors to perform mock procedures prior to the actual surgery, 3D printing will continue to be a life saving technology as we move forward.

What do you think about this latest case of 3D printing medical models for surgery? Discuss in the double knee replacement forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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