This September a Chinese man visited a hospital as he had growing lump in his chest, when tests were conducted the doctors found that the man had a bone tumors in his sternum. The Tumor was big and reached the first Sternocostal joints which caused the patient a lot of pain and the only option he had was an operation to remove the tumor and his sternum and replacing it with an implant.
The team of doctors working on the patients case held an emergency meeting and decided that the patient would be operated and they would remove the Tumor and the affected bones and replace them with custom 3D printed titanium sternum. It was easier said than done, as it was the first surgery of its kind in China and to conduct it two of the China’s premier healthcare institutes had to come together. Hunan Cancer Hospital had to team up with Hunan Dimension Intelligent Technology.
Traditionally in cases like these the Patient sternum was removed and replaced with Cement based structure, but in this procedure the pain management would be extremely difficult in post-operative care. The doctors chose 3D printed titanium sternum as they believed it would lead to smoother recovery of the patient.
Once it was decided that the patient was going to get 3D printed implant the patient chest was scanned using high-resolution CT scanner. The data received from the CT scan was closely examined by the doctors and the DICMON data was converted into STL which was then sent for 3D printing to Hunan New Sense Intelligent Technology.
There was no scope for errors during the operation, hence the doctors worked closely with Hunan New Sense Intelligent Technology until they were satisfied with the model, which could fit seamlessly into the sternal ribs and manubrium.The Implant was then printed using Titanium which is a preferred material for implants for its characteristics like biocompatibility (resistance to corrosion from bodily fluids), strength, and light weight.
This titanium sternum was 3D Printed usinglaser sintering technology and was sent to the Hunan Cancer Hospital. The doctors conducted the operation on the September 23rd, 2015 which according to their official statement was extremely successful. The patient seems to be fine and is recovering quickly, and is expected to be sent home in a few weeks’ time.
The Chinese Doctors are kind of pioneering the use of 3D printing for surgeries and from what we see, China could soon be the travel destination for patients who have rare medical conditions and need out of the box treatment. Is the rest of the world listening?
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