Medical & Dental

3D printed breast implant lattice could revolutionize cancer reconstructive surgery

French researchers have won a prize for their innovative use of 3D printing to create a breast implant for cancer reconstruction surgery.

The project, coined Mat(t)isse, was carried out by Julien Payen and Pierre-Marie Danze PhD Life and Health Sciences at Lille 1 University, with funding from the Hospital Center Regional University De Lille (CHRU). For this, the duo were awarded the Théophile Legrand Textile Innovation prize on the 16th March.

The Mat(t)isse project involved 3D printing an absorbable shell-like structure that can safely contain injected fatty tissues. The process is essentially a combination of the two current reconstruction techniques of lipofilling and silicon implantation. Mat(t)isse has the potential to provide a more natural end result and mitigate current methods which can be both costly and dangerous for the patient.

The cell growth lace. Photo via Lattice Medical.
The cell growth lace. Photo via Lattice Medical.

Conventional techniques

The standard treatment for breast reconstruction surgery involves implanting silicon prosthesis which can have its own problems such as foreign body reactions. Alternatively lipofilling is used with autologous tissue, those removed from the patient. However this can also be dangerous and complex to get the tissue to grow in the right places. Despite this, autologous tissue implantation is the most ideal as it is more natural.

Visualization of the Mat(t)isse process. Image via Lattice Medical.
Visualization of the Mat(t)isse process. The black shaded areas in D, E and F is the 3D printed implant and in H it has been absorbed and replaced by the tissue. Image via Lattice Medical.

Autologous adipose tissues

The Mat(t)isse process combines the desirable aspects of the two current processes. By using 3D printing in place of silicon implants and injecting the autologous adipose tissues, i.e individual fat cells, into this shell. Julien Payen, doctor of the National School of Arts and Textile Industries, explained that,

The idea is that the fat cells will use the lace as a support to maintain and multiply and reform the breast,

The benefit of silicon implants is the structure and by using this 3D printed shell in combination with a Calais Caudry lace, the desired volume can similarly be achieved. The 3D printed shell and lace is made up of bio absorbable materials with MRI scans used to define the shape and size of the structure.

The award ceremony for Mat(t)isse. Photo via Julien Payen.
The award ceremony for Mat(t)isse. Photo via Julien Payen.

Future of breast reconstruction surgery

According to Payen, it will take several years, up to seven, to optimize this product for market. However, in the meantime a patent has been filed by CHRU, Lille. The duo have also formed Lattice Medical which is the business that intends to bring the solution to market.

3D Printing Industry has covered a number of cases involving 3D printed implants, however they are not typically absorbable. A British man recently received a 3D printed titanium sternum implant, while 3D printing is increasingly used to create surgical guides.

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Featured image shows Julien Payen, right and Pierre-Marie Danze with the 3D printed implant. Photo via La Voix du Nord.