Dec 27, 2018 | By Cameron

We cover heaps of research and development concerning the 3D printing of bone, and while the technologies of the field are advancing at a rapid pace, most of the techniques and materials are years away from being applied. That’s why it’s especially exciting when we get to report on present-day applications of 3D printed bone, like the 3D printed rib that was recently implanted into 35-year-old Ivaylo Josifov.

Josifov went to the doctor for tonsillitis, but a chest X-ray revealed a growth on his fifth rib caused by a congenital defect. That type of growth could worsen and cause pulmonary problems later in life, so his doctors decided the rib should be removed. The surgery that replaced the tumorous rib with a 3D printed rib took place at Tokuda Hospital in Bulgaria, a first for the country. The rib needed to have exactly the same dimensions as the original rib, so 3D printing was chosen due to its ability to accurately reproduce organic shapes. “Our 3D printers ensure high 3D dimensional accuracy which was crucial in this particular medical procedure,” commented Filip Turzyński, Quality Development Manager at 3DGence.  “Individually designed rib model allowed for very accurate implementation of the new element in place of the removed bone. Replacing the missing rib with a 3D printed segment with the same shape, curve, width, and thickness was possible with the use of 3DGence 3D printer.”

Maintaining dimensional accuracy is important, but equally important is matching the specific flexibility of a rib. “When we had the first model ready, we started working on its sturdiness,” remarked Georgi Tolev of 3dbgprint. “Each consecutive model was analyzed and improved until we attained the perfect 3D print of the rib.”

The rib was first 3D scanned. Its 3D model was sent to 3dbgprint where it was 3D printed on a 3DGence printer. After being sanitized with ethylene oxide, gamma radiation, and an autoclave, small holes were drilled into the rib to facilitate broaching and proliferation of connective tissue. What’s most impressive, though, is that the rib came out of an FDM (fused deposition modeling) 3D printer. 3DGence makes premium FDM 3D printers that can handle very high-temp materials like the FDA-approved semi-rigid polyamide used for the rib, but it’s still basically the same technology behind every RepRap and MakerBot. The surgery went well and the doctors are planning next to create an implant of three ribs connecting to a sternum.

Professor Minchev, Head of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Tokuda Hospital related, “This is a new era in thoracic wall reconstruction for patients with tumors that require bone-cartilage structures to be removed. The material used has proven tissue compatibility and the accuracy of reproduction allows for large chest wall resections and their single substitution with individually designed implants.” Josifov is in good health so far, which is amazing when considering there’s a rib in him that could have come out of a 3D printer in someone’s garage.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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