Man with 3-D Printed Pelvis Walks Again
A British gentleman in his 60s was suffering from chondrosarcoma of the pelvis, a rare form of cancer that could not be treated with radiation or drugs. The only option was to replace the diseased half of his pelvis. Such surgery would have been unheard of in the recent past, but with the advent of 3-D scanners and printers, there was a chance of success. A United Kingdom implant maker used a 3-D scan and then printed a custom model of the half-pelvis. Stephen Levy wrote an elegant story (see Man with 3-D Printed Pelvis Walks Again) about the steps involved. The 3-D printing process used a laser to fuse multiple layers of titanium powder to create the new pelvis part. The new part was then coated with a mineral that would be hospitable to the growth of new bone. The surgical team used a surgical robot to assist in the 12-hour procedure. The final step was to perform a hip replacement that fit into a socket of the new pelvis part. U.K. newspapers reported that three years after the complex procedure, the gentleman is able to walk with the help of a cane. Many more marvels are in our future. The breakthrough is not just 3-D printed body parts, but parts of parts that can accommodate growth of new tissue or bone into the replaced parts. See my earlier story about Regenerative Medicine.