Posted in | 3D Printing

Surgeons Implant 3D Printed Sternum and Rib Cage in Spanish Cancer Patient

CSIRO and Anatomics have partnered to develop a 3D printed titanium sternum implant for a patient suffering from chest wall sarcoma.

Here’s how the 3D printed sternum and rib cage fit inside the patient’s body. Image: Anatomics

The 54 year old Spanish cancer patient had to have a part of his rib cage and his sternum replaced due to the chest wall sarcoma. This sarcoma is a type of cancer that grows around the rib cage. The rib cage cannot be recreated easily using prosthetics, as it has a complex geometry, and each patient requires a customized design.

The surgical team at the Salamanca University Hospital treating the patient believed that the best treatment option would be a customized 3D printed sternum and rib cage implant that would replicate the complex internal structures.

Flat and plate titanium implants have been used quite commonly for the chest by thoracic surgeons. These implants, however, have a disadvantage. Over a period of time they can become loose, and increase the chances of complications.

The surgical team contacted Anatomics, a medical device company based in Melbourne. Anatomics utilized the $1.3 million Arcam 3D printer at CSIRO’s Lab 22 for designing and manufacturing the implant.

The Anatomics team utilized high resolution CT data for reconstructing the chest wall and tumour in 3D. This reconstruction enabled the surgeons to define the resection margins precisely. The rib cage and sternum were then 3D printed at Lab 22. The Arcam printer used its electron beam to build the 3D implant layer-by-layer. This was then sent to Spain.

The rapid prototyping facility of 3D printing is a major advantage, and is very useful when life-saving surgery is to be performed. In the past, 3D printing has been used for various kinds of biomedical applications, including 3D printed mouth-guard for persons suffering from sleep apnoea, and 3D printed heel-bones.

CSIRO believes that 3D printing has huge implications for biomedical applications, and what has been achieved till now is just like scratching the surface. Hence, CSIRO is interested in collaborating with biomedical manufacturers to address complex medical challenges.

Ian Macfarlane, the Industry and Science Minister, has announced that the patient has recovered well, and has been discharged 12 days after the surgery.

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