Surgeons complete first 3D-printed titanium and polymer sternum implant

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American surgeons have completed the replacement of a patient’s sternum and partial ribcage using a custom 3D-printed titanium and polymer implant. The technology has only been used once before to print a composition sternum and ribcage.

Designed by Australian company Anatomics, the implant was made available through the Food & Drug Administration (FDA)'s Expanded Access (Compassionate Use) Program. Led by Jeffrey L. Port MD, attending cardiothoracic surgeon at New York-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center and professor of clinical cardiothoracic surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, the surgical team revised a precious sternum-ribcage removal and reconstruction meant to remove a malignant bone tumor with the custom 3D-printed titanium/porous polyethylene implant.

"After my initial resection and reconstruction surgery, I continued to experience breathing issues and pain," said the patient, known as Ms. Heller. "With a long, active life ahead of me, I wanted to participate in activities that I love fully and without pain. Electing to have this procedure was a big decision, and I'm coming forward to empower other people in the same position."

The implant was created using a high-resolution CT scan of the patient’s chest. Anatomics engineers were able create a biomodel of the sternum and ribcage. A build code was then sent to Australia's Commonwealth Scientific & Industrial Research Organisation's (CSIRO) 3D-printing laboratory where the custom sternum implant was printed.

"Anatomics is humbled by the strength of the thousands of patients we have helped over 25 years since inventing BioModeling technology,” said Anatomics' Executive Chairman Paul D'Urso, MBBS. “The patient's story is one of many, but what makes it truly remarkable is how the patient and her family, Dr. Port and the staff at NewYork-Presbyterian/Weill Cornell, Anatomics, and the FDA came together to make this story a reality. It was a group effort that began with the patient's pursuit of information."