First 3D transplant proves a success

ANIKA MCMAHON

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Spanish cancer patient undergoes world first surgery. Photo: Anatomics

A world first Australian development has seen the successful transplant of a sternum and rib cage created by 3D printing.

Australian company, Anatomics teamed with CSIRO to develop the innovative medical device which was used on a 54 year old Spanish cancer patient.

Senior CSIRO Research Scientist, Dr Robert Wilson said they were approached to build the 3D metallic sternum and praises the design by Anamotics.

“The innovation comes from [the] new type of implant, the way the fixing was done, it wasn’t just done with drilling a hole and putting in screws and so on,” he said.

“It was a world first for all those reasons, the surgical guide plate, the unique design, the unique clamping, as well as it being 3D printed which was CSIRO’s role.”

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Sternum Implant Back. Photo: Anatomics

Dr Wilson said 3D printing will continue to develop drastically into the future and options such as regrowing organs are in development.

“What we are doing at the moment, we are building something from a scan, such as the sternum which can sit there as an implant, and that’s going to be around for a number of years,” he said.

“The other stuff [regrowing organs] is largely in development- the way in which a salamander regenerates its organs, if it loses a limb it can re-grow it, understanding those things and then making those organs to regrow is something that is next generation.”

CEO of Anatomics Andrew Batty said although titanium implants have been used previously, current designs do not consider issues of long term fixation.

“Flat and plate implants rely on screws for rigid fixation that may come loose over time- this can increase the risk of complications and the possibility of reoperation,” he said.

“From this, we were able to design an implant with a rigid sternal core and semi- flexible titanium rods to act as prosthetic ribs attached to the sternum.”

The patient was discharged from hospital 12 days after surgery, showing stable signs of recovery.

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