Mar 6, 2018 | By Benedict

A decade ago, an Italian surgeon named Dr. Guido Grappiolo used a titanium 3D printed implant on a patient requiring a hip replacement. That patient remains healthy to this day, which bodes well for the medical 3D printing world.

As with all modern healthcare innovations, the longevity of 3D printed implants remains something of a mystery. Everything may appear to be in order, but until you’ve got years of observation under your belt, you can’t know for certain how a titanium printed implant will age over time.

Fortunately for doctors and patients, one of the oldest 3D printing cases of them all is showing positive signs.

Back in 2007, an Italian surgeon named Dr. Guido Grappiolo implanted a 3D printed titanium hip into a patient, and has since implanted close to 600 3D printed Delta-TT hip cups, many of which were 3D printed by metal additive manufacturing company Arcam.

(Images: LimaCorporate)

While most traditional replacement hips often need replacing after 10 years—sometimes 15 or 20 if the patient is lucky—that very first 3D printed implant is still going strong after a decade. “The first patient is doing extremely well,” Grappiolo said in a recent interview.

The patient, who had advanced arthritis in her hip, already had a non-printed titanium implant that had been attached with screws. But Grappiolo teamed up with Arcam and orthopedic implant maker LimaCorporate for the landmark procedure in order to provide her with a new, state-of-the-art hip replacement.

After only a few months, the patient’s bone tissue had already begun to grow into the 3D printed hexagonal cells of the implant.

This historically significant patient isn’t alone: Arcam, just one company involved in the 3D printing of medical implants, has 3D printed around 100,000 hip cups that have been implanted in patients.

Let’s hope they’re all as successful as the first.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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