Cancer patient receives 3D-printed ribs in world-first surgery

September 12, 2015

(Credit: Anatomics)

A Spanish cancer patient has received a 3D-printed titanium sternum and rib cage.

Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma (a type of cancerous tumor 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.

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 customized 3D-printed implant could replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs, providing a safer option for the patient.

So they turned to Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics, which designed and manufactured the implant using the Melbourne CSIRO 3D printing facility.

Using high resolution CT (computed tomography) data, the Anatomics team was able to create a 3-D reconstruction of the chest wall and tumor, allowing the surgeons to plan and accurately define resection margins. Twelve days after the surgery, the patient was discharged and has recovered well.

CSIRO | Cancer patient receives 3D printed ribs in world first surgery