Spanish patient receives world’s first 3D printed rib cage and sternum implant

14 September 2015 (Last Updated September 14th, 2015 18:30)

A Spanish cancer patient has received a titanium 3D printed sternum and rib implant, designed and manufactured by an Australian company.

SternumImplant Anatomics

A Spanish cancer patient has received a titanium 3D-printed sternum and rib implant, designed and manufactured by an Australian company.

The 54-year-old Spaniard needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced as he was suffering from a chest wall sarcoma, a type of tumour that grows in and around the rib cage.

In order to prevent the cancer from spreading, doctors had to remove the sternum and part of the patient's rib cage.

"This breakthrough is an impressive example of what can be achieved when industry and science come together."

This technology was designed and developed in collaboration between Anatomics, a Melbourne-based medical device company, and CSIRO's 3D printing facility, Lab 22, at Clayton.

CSIRO manufacturing team member Alex Kingsbury said: "We built the implant using our $1.3m Arcam printer."

CSIRO noted the chest prosthetics were 'notoriously tricky' to create due to complex customised geometry and design. The patient's surgical team from Salamanca University Hospital determined that a fully customisable 3D printed sternum and rib cage was the best option.

Australian minister for Industry and Science Ian Macfarlane said: "This breakthrough is an impressive example of what can be achieved when industry and science come together.

"This collaboration crossed disciplines and international boundaries, with a clear benefit for both this individual patient and for surgical practice."

CSIRO confirmed that almost after a period of two weeks since surgery, the patient was discharged and had recovered well.

Salamanca University Hospital surgical team member Dr José Aranda said: "We thought, maybe we could create a new type of implant that we could fully customise to replicate the intricate structures of the sternum and ribs.

"We wanted to provide a safer option for our patient, and improve their recovery post-surgery."

The team at Anatomics was able to create a 3D reconstruction of the chest wall and tumour via high resolution CT data, allowing the surgeons to plan and accurately define resection margins.


Image: Front of 3D printed titanium sternum and ribs. Photo: courtesy of CSIRO.