A pelvis fracture patient is undergoing orthopedic surgery. With traditional method patient's pelvis will be fixed with different steel pins or plates. But in this operation at Peking University Third Hospital in Beijing, the surgeon uses a titanium implant which fits perfectly with the anatomical structure of the pelvis. This titanium implant is produced using 3D printing technology - Electron Beam Melting.
The team, led by Liu Zhongjun, director of the department, has been working on this project for four years and developed dozens of 3D printed spinal implants.
"We started clinical trials on 3D printed implants late last year, and now we have used dozens of such implants for more than 50 patients," said Liu.
"All the patients recover very well. Nobody seems to have any undesirable side effects or adverse reaction."
Orthopedic implants are artificial medical devices to replace a missing joint or bone or to support a damaged bone.
Photo by Zhu Xingxin/Asianewsphoto
"3D printing technology has two very nice features: 1. It can print specific structures; 2. It is capable of producing porous metal." Liu explained. "For example atlantoaxial is an oddly shaped vertebrae, the shapes of orthopedic implants used nowadays are usually geometric patterns and can not attach to bones firmly. But 3D printed implant fits perfectly and could greatly enhance the firmness."
For porous metal, Liu Zhongjun said that pre-clinical studies have indicated that bone can grow into the metal pores, and enhance the strength of the implant. "In the past we used clinical titanium mesh, but with the growth of bone, titanium mesh could easily stuck into the bone and cause collapse. 3D printed implants fit the bone completely. And as a result, not only the pressure on the bone is reduced, but it also allows the bone to grow into the implants."
"In this aspect, 3-D printed implants are more reliable than traditional ones," Liu said.
Currently Liu and his team are waiting for official approval of 3D printed orthopedic implants from Chinese health authority.
Posted in 3D Printing Applications
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