A 3D printed rib implant at Morriston Hospital in Wales has saved the life of Peter Maggs, a 71-year-old patient suffering from muscle cancer.
A sensitive case affecting Mr. Maggs’ chest wall, Morriston surgeons opted for the alternative treatment when considering the potential complications of the operation.
Due to Mr. Maggs’ successful recovery, the process is set to become model case for further procedures of this kind at the hospital, contributing to a number of national, and potentially international, firsts for 3D printed implants.
3D printing-enabled reconstruction of the chest wall
Ira Goldsmith is a consulting cardiothoracic surgeon who has been working at Morriston since 2009. Handling benign diseases and cancer, Goldsmith’s expertise lies in minimally invasive surgery.
Describing the nature of Mr. Maggs’ tumor, Goldsmith said, “It was a very extensive growth that needed to be removed. However, removing it also meant removing part of the breastbone and three ribs.”
Removing the ribs had the potential to destabilize Mr. Maggs’ entire chest wall.
The surgical team had to move some of Mr. Magg’s healthy back muscle to cover the potential implant. The remaining bone of Mr. Maggs’ ribcage was also narrow and soft, making any device without a custom fit exceedingly risky.
Goldsmith explains, “Traditionally the operation would have used a cement prosthesis, prepared at the time of surgery,”
“Although it can be fairly substantial it is not a precise fit, and it can move, causing problems such as dislocation.”
3D printed by Renishaw
Mr. Maggs’ 3D printed titanium rib prosthesis was designed by Heather Goodrum, Morriston’s biomedical 3D technician, and Peter Llewelyn Evans, manager of maxillofacial laboratory services, based on CT scan data of the chest.
The device was outsourced for 3D printing to UK based advanced manufacturing firm Renishaw, that has a great deal of experience in digital fabrication for the medical sector.
“We are very pleased with the outcome. The implant is a perfect fit,” says Goldsmith.
Following the operation, Mr. Maggs’ said of Goldsmith, “he’s a saint to me.”
A progressive approach to medicine
Mr. Magg’s procedure adds to a list of 3D printed “firsts” at Morriston Hospital following its a appointment of specialist biomedical 3D technician Heather Goodrum in July of last year.
Debbie Hawkins, a patient who found a tumour in her jaw bone, also underwent 3D printing-enabled reconstructive surgery at Morriston in 2017.
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Featured image shows an x-ray of Mr. Maggs’ ribcage with a the 3D printed titanium prosthesis. Image via Morriston Hospital