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Surgeons Implanted 3D-Printed Titanium Ribs in a Cancer Patient

Are you ready to learn more about 3D printing and the advancements it has made recently? If so, continue reading! Indovance is excited to bring you the latest news regarding technology advancements concerning 3D printing in the medical field!

3D printing has really taken a leap in the medical field lately and the creations have saved lives time and time again. Just recently, 3D printers have been used to make dental implants, artificial limbs (arms, legs and ears). They’re also making other types of medical devices, as well.

Now, there’s news of a Spanish patient with cancer who has received a 3D printed titanium ribcage and sternum. Te recreated sternum and ribcage were used to replace part of the patient’s skeleton in hopes of preventing tumors from spreading.

According to forbes.com, “The cancer patient was diagnosed with chest wall sarcoma. The chest wall consists of the spine, sternum and ribs to form a cage around the heart and lungs. The treatment of cancerous tumors that grow in the chest wall varies based on the progression stage. To treat the tumors, options usually include surgical resection, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. However, the patient’s surgeons had to remove a part of the skeleton to prevent tumors from spreading.”

Making sure to recreate a rib cage that was identical to the patient’s existing one using artificial materials made for a difficult task. Because all humans have unique sternums and ribs, it was important to make sure everything matched correctly.

According to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), “Flat titanium plates were used to reinforce the rib cage structure in similar cases. But the plates could loosen and increase complications risks. Fortunately, 3D printers can heavily customize implants for individual patients.”

The 3D printed titanium ribs were made by reviewing scans of the patient’s actual chest. After review, a 3D model of the chest wall, with tumors, was created. Using the 3D model, they were then able to decide where the entry incision was to be made within the rib cage. Once that was determined, the surgeons then sent the 3D model to a printing lab.

It’s amazing what these printers are capable of! It’s also fantastic just how many lives are being saved by them, as well.  This particular 3D printer used was a $1.3 million model used in a government-ran laboratory called the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, located in Spain.

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