3D Printed Pelvis for Cancer Patient

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A surgeon has become the first person in the world to 3D print a pelvis.

The unnamed patient, who received the 3D printed transplant, had lost half of his original pelvis to cancer. Thanks to the transplant, he is now able to walk again.

Craig Gerrand, consultant orthopedic surgeon at Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, used this procedure for the patient, who needed to have half of his pelvis removed in order to stop bone cancer from spreading.

“The cancer affected virtually the whole right side of the pelvis,” said Dr Gerrand. “Since this cancer does not respond to drugs or radiotherapy, the only option to stop it spreading was to remove half of the pelvis.”

Scans of the man’s pelvis allowed the team to determine that amount of bone that needed to be removed. 3D printing allowed the recreation of a specific, custom three dimensional shape, allowing a precise replacement to be created. This implant was made on a 3D printer with titanium powder that was fused with a laser, and coated with a mineral onto which the bone could grow.

3D printing provided a viable alternative to a standard implant, which in this case would not have been possible. The amount of bone that was removed left nothing to which an implant could have been attached.

While 3D printing appears to hold major potential in the field of medicine, experts say that the real advancements would be in developing more effective treatments for bone cancer. Survival rates remain virtually the same as 30 years ago, at about 60 percent.

“It’s fantastic that you can do cool surgery,” Dr. Gerrand said, “but the real innovation will be when we don’t have to do this at all, because we have developed new treatments that can stop the cancer in its tracks.”