Aug 7, 2017 | By Tess

A team of doctors from the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center in China have successfully implanted a 3D printed sternum shell into a six-year-old boy with a rare congenital problem. The medical center is affiliated with the School of Medicine at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

Abu, a six-year-old from China’s XinJiang province was born with a rare congenital malformation of his sternum which caused his heart to essentially hang in his abdominal cavity. The serious condition, which can be seen from looking at the child’s chest, led doctors to believe that Abu would only live to the age of two.

Six years later, however, Abu is still alive, though he does face his share of hardships. To keep him safe, his mother has kept him from activities that most children partake in, such as sports and games. His delicate condition has also prevented him from going to school.

Last month, Abu’s case was brought to Dr. Zhang Lei from the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center, who, with a dedicated team from Zepu County and the Kashi Second Hospital, made a plan to treat and save the young child.

On July 17th, Abu and his mother arrived at the Shanghai Children’s Medical Center for a consultation with a team of cardiothoracic, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular disease specialists. The team discovered that Abu was suffering from five different deformities, making his case one of the rarest congenital malformations they had ever seen and one of the rarest in the world (with only about 200 cases reported).

In addition to his sternal defects, Abu also had an endocardial defect on the external portion of his heart, a right ventricle double outlet, a pulmonary valve stenosis, and a tricuspid regurgitation.

While the most ideal time to operate on someone with such a condition would be at a much younger age (between 1 and 2 years), the doctors believed there was hope for Abu as he demonstrated a stable situation with oxygen saturation of about 90%. The goal was to protect the child’s heart with a 3D printed sternum shell which would encage the external heart.

The 3D printed sternum shell was 3D printed from a biocompatible PEEK material and was designed specifically for Abu’s anatomy. According to the doctors, the material does not adhere to other organs and tissues easily, making it suitable for the procedure and for follow-up treatments.

The implantation was recently completed and the doctors say it was an overall success, though they will have to do regular follow ups with the young patient to keep tabs on his recovery. Abu is expected to begin school in the near future.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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