Tag Archives: 3D printed bones

3D printing helps 71-year-old man avoid amputation

Once again, doctors have successfully used 3Dprinting to save the life — or in this case foot — of a patient. Recently, surgeons at a New York hospital have credited 3D printing with helping to save the life of a two-week-old baby who required complicated heart surgery. Now, a staff of Australian doctors have carried out the world’s first procedure of printing a new heel bone.


Pioneered by Professor Peter Choong at Melbourne-based Saint Vincent’s Hospital, the breakthrough has allowed 71-year-old Len Chandler to avoid amputation after being diagnosed with cartilage cancer in the foot. Typically speaking, those suffering from this disease lose the leg below the knee due to possible fracture.

“The good thing about this tumor I suppose, as it were, is that it was purely within the bone. That meant we could do things to the bone that we otherwise couldn’t. Traditionally you would manage this by amputation below the knee. The reason being that it’s come out of the knee. The reason being, it’s come out of the bone, it’s into the soft tissue and it makes any form of reconstruction very, very difficult. Recognizing that we could actually cut the bone out, meant we could preserve the nerves, tendons and the arteries and rebuild him with a prothesis. So that trick was how do you actually get a prothesis to match precisely the bone you are removing,” Choong explained.


In order to create an exact replica of the patient’s right heel bone, the team mirrored a CT scan of Chandler’s tumor-free left heel bone which had the exact dimensions. The bone was then constructed out of titanium using a 3D printer.

The groundbreaking procedure was done in collaboration with a team of biotechnologists from Anatomics and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO).

“We designed an implant that was taken from the otherside of the heel. The part that was designed in 3D software and that software was then used to export the data file and and sent to the CSIRO and they manufactured the Titanium heel to our design,” said Andrew Batty, CEO of Anatomics.

Once printed, the staff replaced the cancerous bone by implanting the prosthetic and allowing Chandler to keep his foot!

Professor Choong hopes that this breakthrough will facilitate a downward trend in the number of amputations for similar procedures. He added, “Science advances have allowed us to consider 3D printing of bones and we were able to get information from Len’s foot and use that to tell the computers precisely how big his foot is, and reproduce that using the new 3D technology.”


“This is a great way of demonstrating that we can actually be bold enough to start creating parts, for example, the pelvis, the thigh bone, parts of the shoulder – failry complex structures that in the past were difficult to manufacture and now we’ve done so. But at the same time in a way that fits the patient, there by making both the surgery more accurate, the reconstruction more accurate and allowing the reconstruction of the soft tissues and muscles around it to occur much more effectively ”

And as for Mr. Chandler, he’s just happy to be back on his feet again. “I’ve got no irritation or pain, or anything from that, it just fits perfect. I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

This isn’t the first time doctors have been able to successfully implemented 3D-printed bones. Earlier this year, doctors at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan had successfully transplanted 3D printed hard tissue into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation. In time, we can surely expect to see a growing number of doctors, researchers and other medical professionals explore the unlimited possibilities of 3D printers — a majority of which are powered by AVR XMEGAmegaAVR and SAM3X8E MCUs. That’s what we call making a difference!

3D printing helping in fractured bone surgeries

Italian surgeons at the University of Verona Hospital are now 3D-printing replicas of bone fractures so that they can make sure severe orthopaedic trauma surgeries are successful the first time round.


If you’ve ever fractured a bone, you know exactly how painful it can be, but luckily they can heal rather quickly — that is, of course, if they are able to be set correctly. Otherwise, an injured individual will suffer from chronic pain.

According to IBTimes UK, the doctors are employing “a Stratasys 3D printer to print out replicas of difficult bone fractures” to enable surgeons to rehearse surgeries in advance, similar to the doctors in Barcelona who were recently able to remove a previously inoperable tumour from a five-year-old boy. 3D printing continues to emerge as a true medical marvel, having also been used to save the life of an 18-month-old child’s life by restoring his breathing and provide a 13-year-old girl with an affordable prosthetic arm.

“At the moment about 20 patients have received 3D-printed replicas, especially patients with serious and articular fractures,” Orthopedic and trauma surgeon Dr Nicola Bizzotto told IBTimes UK. “I hope that in future, 3D printers could be used in tissue banks to give us new artificial or biological tissue [made from] a custom organ/bone architecture to implant into patients.”

(SOURCE: International Business Times


3D printing wrist splints

Loughborough University lecturer Dr. Abby Paterson has developed an innovative app that will allow clinicians to easily design and manufacture a new generation of custom-made 3D printed wrist splints.

According to 3DERS, the next-gen splints are more comfortable, attractive and affordable than current options.

“I wanted to give clinicians the ability to make splints that they have not been able to make before,” said Paterson. “They can improve the aesthetics, the fit, and integrate extra bits of functionality they couldn’t do before.”

As Paterson notes, the splints, which provide joint protection, rest, and promote pain relief, could be a major boost for sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis.

Dr. Bibb, who supervised Paterson’s PhD, said he believes the new splints will be cost-effective.

“We are in the development phase. The research has proved that this is desirable and the clinicians want it. We know there’s lots of potential.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, 3D printing technology – projected to be a $3 billion business by 2016 – is rapidly evolving, particularly in the medical space. Indeed, 3D printed orthopedic implants were recently fitted in Peking’s University Third Hospital in Beijing, while doctors at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Japan successfully transplanted 3D printed bones into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation.

Similarly, 3D printing tech helped doctors at the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi’an Jiaotong University repair a patient’s damaged skull in China, while researchers at the Huazhong University of Science and Technology used 3D printing technology to create living human kidneys. In September, scientists at Nottingham Trent University and Nottingham University Hospitals NHS (UK) Trust announced the development of an electronic smart pump to help victims of chronic heart failure.

Of course, the DIY Maker Movement has been using Atmel-powered 3D printers like MakerBot and RepRap for some time now. However, 3D printing has clearly entered a new and important stage in a number of spaces including the medical spherearchitectural arenascience lab and even on the battlefield.