A patient who had chondrosarcoma, a form of bone cancer that does not respond to drugs or radiotherapy, had to have half of his pelvis removed in order to take out the cancer. Due to the amount of bone that was removed, it would have been difficult to successfully fit him with a traditional implant. Doctors said that with so much bone removed, there was not enough left with which an implant could be attached.
This would have left the leg attached to the body only by muscle and skin, and completely detached from the spine, essentially making it useless. In all likelihood, the patient would have had to have his leg amputated as well as losing half of the pelvis bone. Fortunately, Doctor Craig Gerrand came up with the idea of using 3D printers to avoid this problem.
Scans were taken of the patient’s pelvis so doctors would know exactly how much bone needed to be removed. Using those scans, they were able to use 3D printing technology to ‘print’ the replacement to the exact specifications of the bone that was being removed. The printer used successive layers of titanium powder, which was fused together by a laser.
Once the replacement was completed, it was coated with a mineral, which the remaining bone could grow, resulting in a long lasting replacement with fewer problems.
The medical team worked with Stanmore Implants, the company that had the advanced 3D Printer, to print the precise replacement. The 12 hour surgery was successful, and the patient can now walk with a cane. With time, he may be able to walk without the cane.