In China, world’s first successful 3D-printed shoulder and collar bone implants have been performed
In Xi’an, China, the capital of Shaanxi province, 3D-printed titanium prostheses were successfully implanted into three patients suffering from cancerous bone tumors. The procedures took place on March 27 and April 3 this year and the patients are currently in good condition and recovering with their new, 3D-printed bone replacements: a collar bone, a shoulder bone, and the right ilium of the pelvis.
One of the three patients, a 20-year-old woman, was diagnosed a year ago with Ewing’s sarcoma in her right collar bone. Ewing’s sarcoma is a type of small, round, blue-celled tumor. The second patient also suffered from this disease in her right scapula or shoulder bone.
And the third patient was diagnosed with cancer in the right ilium of the pelvis. These patients all had malignant tumors which could be life threatening if not removed. Eventually, the hospital decided that operations were needed to remove the tumors and replace the affected bones. This is where 3D printing technology comes in.
A clavicle or collarbone replacement is a difficult procedure because of the complexity of the bone. With 3D-printing technology, it was possible to avoid some complications involved in the traditional procedure.
Computer imaging was used to design a collarbone in the exact size and shape of the patient’s original bone. The 3D bone design was printed using laser sintering technology which fused titanium powder into the exact shape of the bone. This process produces a strong, customized titanium implant which ensures the implant fits well in the patient’s body. Infections and loosening and can be prevented in this way and lead to better health and functionality for the patient.