A 3D-printed rib cage made of titanium has been implanted into a human for the first time, received by a man from Spain suffering from a cancerous tumor.
Surgeons at Salamanca University Hospital in Spain asked Anatomics, an Australian firm, to create the rib cage for the patient, who had part of his own removed after his cancerous tumor grew around his ribs and sternum, according to The Mirror U.K.
The design team customized the 3D rib cage using CT scans from the patient and a printer from the Australian national science agency CSIRO.
"The reason 3D printing was desired for making this implant was because it needed to be customized exactly to suit the patient," Alex Kingsbury, additive manufacturing research leader at CSIRO said, according to The Mirror.
"No human body is the same, so therefore every implant is going to be different," Kingsbury continued. "It would have been an incredibly complex piece to manufacture traditionally, and in fact, almost impossible."
News of the successful surgery was made public by Australia's Industry and Science Minister Ian Macfarlane on Friday, according to a CSIRO blog
. The patient was discharged and rebounding 12 days after surgery.
"The advantage of 3D printing is its rapid prototyping," the CSIRO blog stated. "When you're waiting for life-saving surgery this is the definitely the order of the day. We are no strangers to biomedical applications of 3D printing: In the past we have used our know-how to create devices like the 3D printed heel-bone or 3D printed mouth-guard for sleep apnea suffers."
"When it comes to using 3D printing for biomedical applications, it seems that we are just scratching the surface of what’s possible," the statement continued.
The use of 3D printing has spread to drugs with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approving the first prescription pill for consumer use in August, according to The Washington Post.
Aprecia Pharmaceuticals makes the 3D-printed pill sold under the name Spritam that is used by adult and children suffering different types of seizures caused by epilepsy.
"By combining 3D printing technology with a highly-prescribed epilepsy treatment, Spritam is designed to fill a need for patients who struggle with their current medication experience," Don Wetherhold, the chief executive of Aprecia said, according to The Post.
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