Apr 18, 2017 | By Tess

A team of investigators from the Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles have used a series of 3D printed models to prove that existing procedures for treating Charcot-Marie-Tooth heel deformities are in need of improvement, as they do not sufficiently correct the problem. The research was recently presented at the annual American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons meeting.

Foot affected by Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease is a genetic neuromuscular condition that causes the long nerves in the hands and feet to die. The disease, which is to this day incurable, affects about 1 in every 2,500 people or 2.8 million worldwide. Despite there not being a cure for the disease, a number of processes and techniques have been established to treat CMT, though (as became clear through the research from Cedars-Sinai) there is still much room for improvement.

For the investigation, the Cedars-Sinai researchers focused primarily on the heel bone, which can be deformed and twisted in patients who suffer from CMT disease. The researchers wanted to uncover whether current treatments for the often debilitating condition were adequate.

As part of the research, the team took a CAT scan of a CMT patient’s heel and 3D printed 18 identical copies of it. With the 3D prints, the team was able to compare and contrast the three most common correction methods used for treating CMT disease: Dwyer, oblique, and Z osteotomies. In the end, the tests showed that none of the existing techniques for correcting the heel were adequate.

And while that may sound bleak, the Cedars-Sinai investigators are hopeful that their discovery will lead to the development of new and more effective treatments for the neuromuscular disease. "Ultimately our findings offer hope for better techniques to help patients with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease live a better quality of life," commented Glenn B. Pfeffer, MD, lead author of the study and director of the Foot and Ankle Surgery Program at Cedars-Sinai.

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

As mentioned, the 3D printing-based study was recently presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons annual meeting, where it was selected as one of six “Game Changer” initiatives (out of more than 900 medical studies!). The recognition is awarded to projects that are most likely to affect or improve a practice over the new few years.

According to the Cedars-Sinai researchers, 3D printing will be used again to analyze and compare other treatments and procedures. "This is one of the first times 3D prints have been used in orthopaedic research and we're thankful for the support of CMTA to use this new technology to help improve patient care," Pfeffer explained.

The Cedars-Sinai investigation was funded by the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA), and was realized by MDs Glenn B. Pfeffer, Max P. Michalski, Tina Basak, and Joseph Giaconi.

 

 

Posted in 3D Printing Application

 

 

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