Tuesday 15 September 2015

Cancer Patient Receives 3D Printed Ribs


Cancer Patient Receives First 3D Printed Rib Cage

A 54 old cancer patient from Spain has become the first person in the world to receive a 3D printed RIB CAGE who had been suffering from a cancerous tumour which had grown around his rib cage and sternum. A section of it had to be removed to cut out the growth completely.

However, rather than changing the ribs with a metallic plate as is the custom, surgeon at Salamanca University Hospital requested Anatomics, an Australian firm to make a personalized titanium imitation. By scanning the patient’s sternum and the rib cage, the team designed a customized model utilising a 3D printer provided by Australia’s national science agency – CSIRO.

Additive manufacturing research leader at CSIRO, Alex Kingsburg informed that `the reason 3D printing was preferred in making this implant was because it needed to be customised accurately to suit the patient since no human body tends to be the same and hence every implant would be different’. He further adds that it would have been an extremely complex piece to create usually and would have also been impossible.

CSIRO’s 3D Printing Facility Lab 22

After the 54 year old Spanish had been diagnosed with a chest wall sarcoma, the surgical team made a decision to remove his sternum an a part of his rib cage, to replace it with an implant where the implant was designed and manufactured by medical device company – Anatomics.

The device company used the CSIRO’s 3D printing facility Lab 22 in Melbourne, Australia. The surgical team comprising of Dr Jose Aranda, Dr Marcelo Jimene and Dr Gonzalo Varela from Salamanca University Hospital, were aware that the surgery would be a difficult one due to the complicated geometries that were involved in the chest cavity.

The process has been described in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic surgery. Dr Aranda has stated that they thought that they could create a new kind of implant which could fully customise to replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs. They wanted to provide a safer option for the patient and improve their recovery post-surgery’. Hence the surgeon had sought the help of Anatomics.

Implant Out of Surgical Grade Titanium Alloy

On evaluating the complexity of the requirements, Andrew Batty, CEO of Anatomics informed that the solution lay in metallic 3D printing. He stated that they wanted to 3D print the implant from titanium due to its complex geometry and design.

He added that while titanium implants had previously been utilised in chest surgery, designs have not considered the issues related to long term fixation and flat and plate implants depend on screws for firm fixation which may tend to get loose over a period of time. This could however, increase the risk of complication and the possibility of a re-operation. With high resolution CT data, the Anatomics team were capable of creating a 3D reform of the chest wall as well as the tumour enabling the surgeons to plan and precisely define resection margins.

With this, Mr Batty informed that that they were able to design an implant with firm sternal core and semi-flexible titanium rods which acted as prosthetic ribs attached to the sternum. Operating with experts at CSIRO’s 3D printing facility, the team then developed the implant out of surgical grade titanium alloy. The implant was built using a $1.3 million Arcam printer according to Alex Kingsbury from CSIRO’s manufacturing team.

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