Replacement of sternum and a portion of rib cage was the better choice for survival for a 54-year-old Spanishácancerápatient.
The Spaniard was suffering from a chest wall sarcoma - a kind of tumor, which forms in bones, soft tissues, and cartilage.
But chest prosthetics were not easy to create due to the complex customized geometry and design for each patient, said the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO). A 3D-printed implant can identically mimic the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs and it was a safer option for the patient.
A couple of weeks after the surgery, the research organization confirmed the patient was discharged and had recovered well. According to Anatomics, the company which made the implant, an electrum beam metal printer was used to create the part.
Alex Kingsbury, researcher at the CSIRO, explained how the part was created.
"3D-printing works by imputing a 3D digital cad file into a computer and then that computer talks to the machine. The machine then puts down layer upon layer of material and each layer is fused. As each layer is fused you then start to build up a part as your layers increase." Ms. Kingsbury said.
The implant has a titanium plate that will sit over the sternum. The mimicked parts of the ribs are screwed into the bones of the rib cage, securing the implant with the bone.
"3D-printing was the most desirable method because the implant needed to be customized to the patient. No human body is the same," Ms Kingsbury added.