World’s First 3D-Printed Ribcage
Say Hello To The World’s First 3D-Printed Ribcage
A 54-year old Spanish man who had lost his sternum and part of his rib cage due to cancer has become the first human to successfully receive a 3D-printed chest prosthetic. The device is made from lightweight, but incredibly strong titanium, and designed & manufactured by Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics.
Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma, or a type of cancerous tumor that grows (in this man’s case) around the rib cage, doctors were struggling to come up with the best way to treat or replace the diseased structures. According to Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, or the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, “This part of the chest is notoriously tricky to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and design required for each patient.“
Thoracic surgeons typically use flat and plate implants for the chest, however, these can come loose over time and increase the risk of complications. In order to create a totally customized fit for their patient, the surgical team at the Salamanca University Hospital decided that 3D-printing was their only viable option.
This isn’t your typical home 3D-printer; this is like the Makerbot’s older more sophisticated cousin. Using high resolution CT data from the patient and an in-house $1.3 million Arcam printer, the team at Anatomics was able to manufacture an exact fit in a fraction of the time it would have taken using conventional methods and techniques.
“The advantage of 3D printing is its rapid prototyping. When you’re waiting for life-saving surgery this is the definitely the order of the day,” said CSIRO, “We are no strangers to biomedical applications of 3D printing: in the past we [scientists/engineers/Australia] have used our know-how to create devices like the 3D printed heel-bone, or the 3D printed mouth-guard for sleep apnoea (apnea in the US) suffer[er]s.“
Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane announced that 12 days after the surgery the patient was discharged and is recovering well.
What are your thoughts? Is the future of medicine now? What would a world of home-based 3-D printed body parts look like? Is this just the beginning of a real life, straight-out-of-comic-books, Wolverine? Join in the conversation: comment below, share on Facebook, and on Twitter use the hashtag #DMTalk.