3D printed rib cage and sternum implant

Spain – September 14th, 2015

In a world first, ground-breaking operation, surgeons have implanted a 3D printed rib cage and sternum.

Designed and printed by an Australian company, Anatomics, the recipient is a 54 year old cancer sufferer. Similar procedures done in the past have relied on the use of metal plates but these have proved to be very troublesome over time, often coming loose.

The 3D printing process allows for an exact replication of the living structure capable of fully mimicking the natural bones and cartilage and is expected to perform without fault for the life of the recipient.

Anatomics used an electrum beam metal printer to create the part. The implant has a titanium plate that fits over the sternum while the 3D printed ribs are screwed into the existing bones of the rib cage.

The plate sits on the sternum and the limbs are screwed into the ribs.
The plate sits on the sternum and the limbs are screwed into the ribs.

The surgery was apparently conducted two weeks ago and the patient is said to be recovering very well.

“3D-printing was the most desirable method because the implant needed to be customised to the patient. No human body is the same,” said Alex Kingsbury, additive manufacturing research leader at the CSIRO, and part of the development team.

3D printing for medical applications is considered to be the future of surgery with the ability to print prosthetics, bones and even tissue already a reality. Earlier this year a male patient in Melbourne, Australia, received a 3D printed prosthetic jaw.

With the rapid advances in 3D technology, researchers like Dr Mia Woodruff, who heads the Biomaterials and Tissue Morphology Group at QUT University’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, says, “Our hospital of the future, from our point of view, is going to have the patient go into hospital, you scan them and immediately next to that operating table you can print them that scaffold. (These machines) could be in every hospital within the next five years, easily. The technology is there.”

Amazing times! What do you say?



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