Ground-Breaking Elbow Transplant Assisted by Materialise



After a car accident seven years ago, Reggie Cook was left with a variety of injuries that made him unable to walk or feed himself. He injured a major upper extremity nerve in his left arm, losing feeling and function in an otherwise normal limb, and shattered the elbow in his right arm. At this point, he approached his surgeon in El Paso, Texas, Dr. Eric Sides, with the novel idea of using the healthy but useless elbow of his left arm for an elbow transplant to replace the injured one on his right side.

Nothing like this had ever been done before, and Dr. Sides was skeptical at first. But with the feeling that some ideas are so crazy they just might work, Dr. Sides approached a former colleague, Dr. Lisa Lattanza, the Chief of Elbow and Upper Extremity Surgery at UCSF in San Francisco, to see if the idea was possible. Dr. Lattanza knew that although an elbow-to-elbow transplant had never been done before, the component parts (vascular anastomosis, large bone transport, tendon reconstruction and osteotomy) had been done individually with success. She approached Materialise to help plan the patient’s elbow transplant in 3D.

Materialise Clinical Engineer Alyssa Ricker played a key part in helping Dr. Lattanza to visualize the patient’s pre-operative anatomy and strategize the correction. What made Reggie’s case particularly unique was the fact that his surgeons had to transplant anatomy that was a mirror image of his damaged side. Starting from CT scans of the patient’s arms, Alyssa reconstructed the bones in Materialise Mimics, and worked together with Dr. Lattanza to assess the potential risks involved in the elbow transplant as well as planning out a course of action for the surgery.



Josh Sandberg

Josh Sandberg is the President and CEO of Ortho Spine Partners and sits on several company and industry related Boards. He also is the Creator and Editor of OrthoSpineNews.

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