In a first of its kind of pelvic transplant, a 3-D printer helped a 60-year-old man get a new pelvis after half of the original one had to be removed as he suffered from a rare bone cancer called chondrosarcoma.
Craig Gerrand, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Newcastle-upon-Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, said, "Since this cancer does not respond to drugs or radiotherapy, the only option was to remove half of the pelvis."
The otherwise normal implants would not have worked in this case, so they had to use the 3-D technique. Doctors scanned the pelvis of the cancer victim to determine the part of bone that had to be removed. The team then loaded this data into the printer which got the exact measurements of the new hip, which was formed by assembling layers of titanium together. The printed bone was layered with a mineral into which the remainder of his biological pelvis could grow and attach.
Surgical navigation technology helped the team upload images of the pelvis on to a computer to create a model. Mr Gerrand said, "It's quite easy with a complex organ such as the pelvis to get lost or take too much or too little bone. Using surgical navigation technology means you can cut the bone exactly where you planned to cut."
The entire procedure lasted for 12 hours. Experts say 3-D printing can go a long way in revolutionising health care and finding new and innovative ways to deal with problems.