Health

Surgeons successfully implanted the first 3D-printed rib

The operation was considered a total success according to his surgeon and the patient is doing well.

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The patient, 35-year-old Ivalo Josifoy, went to his physician because he had tonsillitis, but a chest x-ray revealed a growth on his fifth rib, according to Digital Trends. His doctors were concerned that the condition could cause pulmonary issues later on so they decided to remove and replace the rib.

Traditional rib implants are made from titanium and are very expensive but Josifoy's surgeon Dr. Tzvetan Minchey, who is the head of cardiothoracic surgery at Tokuda Hospital in Sofia, had a plan to use a new high-tech solution.

The new approach, called fused deposition modeling (FDM), was used to create a rib implant that was significantly cheaper than titanium, was ready in less than 24 hours, and only cost $114. It was 3D-printed.

"Our 3D printers ensure high 3D dimensional accuracy which was crucial in this particular medical procedure," Filip Turzynski, the quality development manager at 3DGence (the company that printed the rib) told Digital Trends. The FDA-approved semi-rigid polyamide material called Nylon 680 that was used for the transplant is unique because it can withstand the high temperature needed for sterilization and is more functional than titanium implants, according to 3DGence.

The operation was considered a total success according to his surgeon and the patient is doing well. “This is a new era in thoracic wall reconstruction for patients with tumors that require bone-cartilage structures to be removed,” Minchey said. “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.”

The surgery was so successful that the surgeons at Tokuda are now planning to create an implant of three ribs connecting to the sternum, according to 3ders.org.

This is not the first 3D-printed body part even if it is the first implanted rib. Scientists at New York University are developing their own 3D-printed bones to use in children who have skull deformations or trauma victims who require bone scaffolding.

Researchers at the University of Arizona are working on mending broken bones using 3D printing and stem cells to replace damaged areas of bones. The researchers hope that their work can someday help military veterans recover from combat injuries.

A project at Pennsylvania State University is working on a more breathable 3D-printed tissue that could be used to manufacture artificial bones and cartilage. Material scientists at Northwestern University in Illinois developed a new printable material called hyperelastic bone that is flexible and can be cut, rolled and easily implantable.

With these new advances, 3D-printed medical devices could offer life-altering medical help at significantly cheaper costs and better results than the artificial medical devices that are available now.

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