A 54-year-old man with cancer is the world’s first recipient of a 3D-printed sternum and partial rib cage. The operation was performed at Salamanca University Hospital in Spain and conducted by doctors Jose Aranda, Marcelo Jimene, and Gonzalo Vereda.
Since the patient was suffering from a tumor in the chest wall, surgeons knew that reconstruction would be extremely difficult because of the complexity of the chest cavity. Furthermore, conventional titanium implants are held together by screws, which could come undone over time and cause further complications.
According to Dr. Aranda, “We thought maybe we could create a new type of implant that we could fully customize to replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs…we wanted to provide a safer option for our patient, and improve their recovery post-surgery.”
The team provided Anatomics—the company that designed the implant—with high-resolution CT data, which they were then able to use to create a 3D structure of the chest wall and tumor. This allowed surgeons to plan and precisely define resection margins.
Once the data was received, a rigid sternal core and semi-flexible titanium rods were made to act as prosthetic ribs attached to the sternum. In order to create each layer, the printer directed an electron beam at a bed of titanium powder to melt it. This process was repeated until the implant was complete.
The implant was sent to Spain, where it was implanted into the patient.
Dr. Aranda claims the implant was a success, noting that the team had created a fully customizable body part.
Details of the procedure can be found in the European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery.
Sources for Today’s Article:
Aranda, J.L., et al., “Tridimensional titanium-printed custom-made prosthesis for sternocostal reconstruction,” European Journal of Cardio-Thoracic Surgery August 4, 2015, doi: 10.1093/ejcts/ezv265.
Brazier, Y., “World’s First 3D-printed Ribs Given to Cancer Patient,” Medical News Today web site, September 15, 2015; http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/299446.php.