3D printed rib successfully implanted by Bulgarian hospital team
The patient had a tumour formation in the fifth right rib accompanied by swelling and pain. It was thought to be a congenital disease that could lead to weakening of the chest and problems associated with physical strain, including difficulty breathing.
The doctors from the Tokuda Hospital in Sofia chose 3D printing technology in order to perfectly represent the original rib shape.
Filip Turzyńsk, quality development manager at 3DGence who provided the printer used to produce the rib said: “Our 3D printers ensure high 3D dimensional accuracy which was crucial in this particular medical procedure. Individually designed rib model allowed for a very accurate implementation of the new element in place of the removed bone. Replacing the missing rib with a 3D printed segment with the same shape, curve, width, and thickness was possible with the use of 3DGence 3D printer.”
The work on the rib implant, using a polyamide, started with an initial 3D visualisation, the bone was scanned at the hospital and the scan was delivered to 3dbgprint.
The rib was sterilised before it was implanted into the body in ethylene oxide while the printout was sterilised using gamma radiation and autoclaved at 140 °C. Three-millimetre holes were drilled into the 3D printed model to facilitate broaching and proliferation of connective tissue.
Following this success, there are plans to create an implant of three ribs with a sternum.
Professor Minchev, head of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Tokuda Hospital, said: “This is a new era in thoracic wall reconstruction for patients with tumours that require bone-cartilage structures to be removed. The material used has proven tissue compatibility and the accuracy of reproduction allows for large chest wall resections and their single substitution with individually designed implants.”