A Spanish cancer patient has received a 3D printed titanium sternum and rib cage designed and manufactured right here in Australia. Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma (a type of cancerous tumour that grows, in this instance, around the rib cage), the 54 year old man needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced. This part of the chest is notoriously tricky to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and design required for each patient. So the patient’s surgical team determined that a fully customisable 3D printed sternum and rib cage was the best option.
Here’s how the 3D printed sternum and rib cage fit inside the patient’s body. Image: Anatomics
That’s when they turned to Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics, who designed and manufactured the implant utilising our 3D printing facility, Lab 22.
The news was announced by Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane today. And the news is good, 12 days after the surgery the patient was discharged and has recovered well.
This isn’t the first time surgeons have turned the human body into a titanium masterpiece. Thoracic surgeons typically use flat and plate implants for the chest. However, these can come loose over time and increase the risk of complications. The patient’s surgical team at the Salamanca University Hospital thought a fully customised 3D printed implant could replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs, providing a safer option for the patient.
Using high resolution CT data, the Anatomics team was able to create a 3D reconstruction of the chest wall and tumour, allowing the surgeons to plan and accurately define resection margins. We were then called on to print the sternum and rib cage at Lab 22.