No, we aren’t predicting the next Terminator film, we’re commenting on the news that has been driving scientific media wild over the past few days; the world’s first 3D printed titanium sternum and rib cage operation has been performed!
Although we agree that it sounds like something straight out of Hollywood, we have been incredibly interested in the process behind creating such a vital structure, as well as the procedure itself.
As we engineer die springs which are designed to function well under environmental stress, we couldn’t help but be a little intrigued as to how this new rib and sternum system was designed to cope with the internal stresses of being inside a living, breathing human; one of the most complexly engineered things on the planet.
Why Use 3D Printing?
No two human bodies are the same. Not even identical twins will have the exact same bone structure and shape, so it can be extremely difficult to adapt such crucial medical implants which are designed to a generic style.
With 3D printing, a unique model can be created using a 3D digital CAD programme, giving engineers and surgeons a fully customisable platform to work with on a patient-to-patient basis.
3D printing is not a new concept, especially in prosthetics, with a titanium 3D printed jaw implant being successfully transplanted earlier this year.
Previously, titanium implants were created using plate components which have been known to come loose and cause complications for the person with the implant. The move to 3D printing eradicates this possibility by building the implant up layer by layer, rather than in separate components.
This impressive procedure was performed in Spain at Salamanca University Hospital on a 54 year old patient who had to have certain sections of his chest removed as a result of a tumor.
During the procedure, the 3D printed titanium sternum with specific rib placements was inserted and attached to the patients existing ribs and sternum to mimic the missing section of his chest.
We bet you’re wondering how long it took the patient to be discharged and begin his recovery after this very delicate operation. Six months? A Year?
A fortnight. It took the man twelve days to be well enough to be discharged after such an intense surgery and the hospital has reported that he has been recovering well following his innovative operation.
This is just the beginning for the prosthetics industry. Working alongside medical professionals and engineers, who knows what else can be achieved using this ground breaking technique. It may seem very Terminator for the moment, but we’re willing to bet that more and more people will be able to live their lives to the fullest with the help of this new, innovative procedure.
Sadly, we don’t have any titanium jaws or rib cages in stock, but we do have a wide range of spring products that can aid the creation of these life-saving implants. For more information on how our springs can help you and your business, don’t hesitate to contact us on 048 9083 8605 and one of our friendly staff members will be happy to help you.