Let us tell you a Tragic story with a Happy Ending all made possible because of the Disruptive technology we know as 3D printing.
Ruth Smith-Leigh a middle age woman from Halifax, Virginia, was one night on her way back from a birthday party. She was driving with her two sons seated on the back seat when she met with an accident, her car collided head on with another vehicle. Thankfully the kids were unharmed in the accident but Ms Leigh was partially crushed in the accident, her lower body mainly the leg was seriously injured.
She was rushed to the Duke University Hospital in Durham where doctors performed emergency operations on her to save her life. She miraculously survived the accident but when she companied to the doctors that “Something was wrong with my leg” the doctors informed her that her leg had to be amputated.
Thankfully for Ruth Smith-Leigh, she had assistance from the Duke orthopedic surgeon Samuel Adams, MD, a foot and ankle specialist who offered her to be implanted with a 3D Printed scaffolding that could support her broken bones. Dr. Samuel Adams said “[The machine] 3D prints a titanium cage to replace the missing bone. It's a scaffold. That bone will grow into a truss system, and through the center of truss system is a titanium rod. Her own bones will grow into her implant and it's just as strong as her native bone, if not stronger.”
The scaffolding would support the broken bones and share the weight on the bones just like the one we see on construction sites. However it was lot easier as this was one of a kind of operation which was never done before however it is said "Where There is There is A Way". The Doctors went ahead the operation and used FDA-approved 3D printed implant made of Titanium.
The operation was a grand success and Ms Leigh is currently under rehabilitation, after the operation Ms Leigh said “It’s a miracle, It is the most awesome experience ever. I am able to wear a shoe with an ankle support.”
The 3D Printed bone implant for Ms Leigh was designed using her legs CT scan data by 3D imaging specialists from Texas-based company 4Web and took around 4 months to be ready but the results were just far beyond anyone's expectations. Ms Leigh said “I can have a normal life. Considering the alternative, I’ll take that any day,”.
Can there be a better use of 3D printing ?