Apr. 30, 2015 | By Alec

The future of 3D printing technology in the medical sector seems to be bright indeed. For while most bioprinting innovations will take a few years to be implemented, other 3D printed medical pieces area already  been used with great success, either as implants or as trial replicas to help doctors accurately prepare complex surgeries. And fitting in that latter category, Dutch scientists from the University of Delft have now successfully incorporated 3D printed clavicles in their surgical practice.

Now you might think that clavicle surgery itself isn’t so complicated, but as professor Richard Goossens (Head of Section Applied Ergonomics and Design at Delft) explains, it isn’t so simple. In the current situation, a trauma surgeon has to screw a special plate into the patient’s shoulder, which will function as a mold for the desired shape of the rebuilt clavicle,’ the professor explains. ‘Problematic in that procedure is that those plates are issued in a standard shape, rather than designed specifically to suit each patient. While this isn’t a problem eight times out of ten, the other patients will develop various complications after surgery as the angles of the joints simply aren’t optimal.’

And that’s exactly where 3D printing comes in. ‘We use the CT scans of the patient to make 3D printed replicas of both his clavicles,’ he tells 3ders.org. ‘So both the clavicle that needs to be operated on, and the healthy one on the other side. We make a mirror image of that healthy clavicle to suit his other side, and 3D print it. During surgery, the surgeon can then bend the plate to match that mirrored replica of the healthy clavicle. That means the inserted plate is entirely based on that specific patient.’

The expectation is that this process will not only reduce the risk of complication in patients, it should also reduce surgery times. The 3D printer used in this process is located in the Applied Lab of the faculty of Industrial Design Engineering at The Technical University of Delft, and has a lot more applications than producing clavicle replicas. It’s the first machine in the Netherlands capable of mixing different materials and colors (including hard, flexible and transparent materials. ‘It can even 3D print materials that can be used in the human body and are FDA approved’, the professor tells us. ‘But that’s a project for the long term.’ So who knows what 3D printing innovation is next to come out of Delft?



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Lauri wrote at 4/8/2016 1:31:56 AM:

Vincent, I have the same problem. My clavicle is missing due to an infection from my original clavicle repair. Did anyone respond to your comment or request? I would be interested to know if anyone could help us. I can be reached at Ladeha621@yahoo.com or 281-780-2772

vincent messina wrote at 3/19/2016 9:48:01 PM:

how do you hold the clavicle in place ???, can u use autogeaft tendonis ,or allograft ligament, or lars ligament , I real am interested in know more about this , Ihere is my email vmessina169@gmail.com

vincent messina wrote at 3/19/2016 9:38:20 PM:

if you are not interested maybe you can help find a doctor that can help with this problem 2154527529

vincent messina wrote at 3/19/2016 9:33:22 PM:

my name is Vincent Messina , I would lpve to be involved with ur research, I am missing 1/4 of my left distal clavicle !, It was removed due to infection, please iwould make myself available at a moments notice I would a great canidate to help myself and your research at the same, I would to help u further ur work to help people me,currentlythere is no solutions for my problem,please tect or call 2154527529 ,610 6420664

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