Gray's Anatomy Male Pelvis
3D printing technology has provided a cancer patient with a new pelvis, it has been reported.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust Craig Gerrand used the technology to replace the bone in a man in his 60s, after half his pelvis was removed to prevent the spread of bone cancer.
The patient, who has not been named, is now capable of walking with the aid of a stick after the procedure - the first of its kind - was completed successfully.
Scanning technology allowed Gerrand's team to measure precisely how much bone needed to be removed, while a bespoke replacement for this bone mass was then created on a 3D printer. The new pelvis was laser 3D-printed in titanium powder, with the metal structure then being coated with a mineral allowing the remaining bone to grow. A standard hip replacement was fitted into the new socket.
3D printing allows the recreation of almost any 3D shape from computer data and the technology's medical applications are growing by the month, particularly in orthopaedics, orthotics and prosthetics. This is because traditional implants do not always offer a perfect fit and in the case of this cancer patient - who suffered from a rare form of bone cancer called chondrosarsoma - so much bone needed to be removed that nothing would have been left to which an implant could have been attached, according to Gerrand.
"Since this cancer does not respond to drugs or radiotherapy, the only option was to remove half the pelvis," he was quoted as saying.
Using 3D printing technology with plastic and metal materials is one side of how the technique is being used in the medical sphere and demand for additive manufacturing in this arena is set to grow.
Gartner reported last month that the 3D printing of non-living medical devices such as prosthetic limbs, combines with an expanding population and insufficient levels of healthcare in the developing markets is likely to cause a real surge in demand for 3D printing by 2015, while 3D bioprinting - which 3D prints living body parts using biological cells - is likely to cause major ethical debates as it becomes a more prominent technology.