Oct. 20, 2014

Doctors in Melbourne, Australia used a 3D printer to build a new heel bone for a man with cancer in the calcaneus and saved him from losing his leg.

Len Chandler,71 has received a foot bone transplant. Picture: David Caird.

The patient was a 71-year-old Len Chandler who suffered from progressive and diffuse bone pain. In the physical examination, he was diagnosed with cartilage cancer in the foot. Patients with cancer in the calcaneus often lose the leg below the knee due to possible fracture of the calcaneus or heel bone. In addition it is also very difficult to replace the highly complex bone, which must move in tandem with the shin and foot bones.

Mr. Chandler was referred to surgeon Prof Peter Choong at St Vincent's Hospital who has been developing techniques with 3D printing. Prof Choong believes recent technical advances can be used to build a new-generation implant for his patient. In collaboration with Melbourne biotech company Anatomics and the CSIRO, they have built a new heel bone for Mr Chandler using 3D printing.

The team first scanned Mr Chandler's tumour-free left foot. Then the 3D scans were sent to Melbourne-based implant manufacturer Anatomics, which created a mirror-image design of his right foot. Then CSIRO, Australia's primary research agency used the 3D model to construct an exact replica of the bone, the calcaneus, in titanium using its state-of-the-art Arcam 3D printer.

Not only needing to be a perfect replica of Mr Chandler's own bone, the implant required also an ultra-smooth surface so it could work seamlessly with his other bones, tendons and muscles, according to Herald Sun. And the implant had to be porous to allow tissue to grow into it for the body to accept it.

Anatomics biomedical technician Stuart Hall with a prototype heel of the revolutionary implant used to save Len's leg. Picture: Tony Gough

"Science advances have allowed us to consider 3D printing of bones and we were able to get information from Len's foot and use that to tell the computers precisely how big his foot is, and reproduce that using the new 3D technology," Prof Choong said.

The groundbreaking surgery took place on July 11. Now Mr. Chandler can already carry more than half his body weight and he is expected to be able to walk without crutches by Christmas.

"I didn't know how good it was going to be - I don't think Prof Choong knew how good I'd be - but I'm going very well," Mr Chandler said.

"Prof Choong said we could take the risk, and I had nothing to lose. I was hesitant and I didn't know whether it would work, but I had to try it."

Len Chandler, with Prof Peter Choong at St Vincent’s Hospital. Picture: David Caird.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications

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Sandi Bommer, USA wrote at 6/6/2016 4:01:19 PM:

What happened to Mr. Len Chandler as of now in 2016? Any progress and side effect during in two years since his surgery?

Lew Parker wrote at 10/21/2014 12:32:29 AM:

Congratulations on this world first. Take care Len and keep off your feet!

alvaro wrote at 10/20/2014 6:34:09 PM:

Congratulations Prof Choong ! . Good luck Mr. Chandler !

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