3D printing seems to be finding a niche in medicine. The latest feat: Two weeks ago, doctors implanted a 3D-printed titanium sternum and ribs into a patient in Spain. According to CNET, he’s doing well.
The patient is suffering from a form of cancer that formed tumors in his chest cavity. To get rid of them, doctors at Salamanca University Hospital needed to cut out a section of his ribs, along with his breastplate. Often, doctors would replace the ribcage with a flat piece of titanium—which can actually loosen over time—but 3D printing allows for a more customized implant. The team at Salamanca took CT scans of the patient’s ribcage and used those images both to show surgeons exactly where to cut, and to create a 3D model to print replacement parts.
The team contracted Anatomics, an Australian medical company, to figure out how to print the file. Anatomics sent the 3D files to the Australian government’s3D-printing lab at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The lab’s printer prints by using a high-powered electron beam to melt metal powder into layers. The result was a titanium object that looks less like ribs and more like something you’d see in a car’s engine, and fit perfectly into the patient’s ribcage.
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SOURCE: Quartz, Mike Murphy