A cancer patient faces challenging surgery
Suffering from a tumour growing on his chest wall, a 54-year-old Spanish man needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced.
This part of the chest is notoriously trick to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and intricate structures involved.
The patient's surgical team from Salamanca University Hospital determined that a fully customisable 3D printed sternum and rib cage was the best option.
3D printing has significant advantages over traditional manufacturing methods, particularly for biomedical applications. As well as being customisable, it also allows for rapid prototyping – which can make a big difference if a patient is waiting for surgery.
The world’s first 3D printed sternum and rib implant
The team of surgeons - Dr José Aranda, Dr Marcelo Jimene and Dr Gonzalo Varela - turned to Anatomics, a Melbourne-based medical device company, which designed and manufactured the implant using our 3D printing facility Lab 22.
Using high resolution CT data the Anatomics team created a 3D reconstruction of the patient's chest wall and tumour, allowing the surgeons to plan and accurately define resection margins.
Using our Arcam electron beam metal printer the team manufactured the implant out of a surgical grade titanium alloy. The printer works by directing an electron beam at a bed of titanium powder in order to melt it. This process is then repeated, building the product up layer-by-layer until you have a complete implant.
A successful patient outcome
Once the sternum and rib prosthesis was complete it was couriered to Spain and implanted into the patient. Twelve days after the surgery the patient was discharged and has recovered well.
The surgical team praised the novel approach. "Thanks to 3D printing technology and a unique resection template, we were able to create a body part that was fully customised and fitted like a glove," Dr Aranda said.