A man who suffered from a chest wall sarcoma has become the first patient ever implanted with a 3D printed sternum, end of last year. The artificial ribcage is 100% titanium and created through a collaboration of two organizations, CSIRO and Anatomics.
The 54-year-old Spanish patient developed sarcoma, a type of cancer that affects the deeper layers of tissue, often manifested in bones, cartilage, blood vessels, and muscles. This aggressive type of tumor grew around the sternum, compromising parts of the rib cage that had to be removed.
Usually in cases like this, it’s not possible to replicate the bone structure perfectly due to the complexity of the rib cage, which needs to be flexible enough to allow expansion when breathing, and not compromise the internal organs. Therefore, the solution so far was to install a titanium plate in the patients chest, which is far from ideal.
This time however, a surgical team at the University Hospital of Salamanca ordered from Melbourne-based company Anatomics an implant project that could satisfactorily replace the bone structure of the patient. Using high resolution CT scans, they managed to perfectly reproduce the parts of the rib cage and sternum removed. 3D printing laboratory Lab 22 was asked to create the part using a $1.3 million electron beam Arcam 3D printer.
Two weeks after the operation, the patient was discharged from the hospital and is recovering well from surgery.