Jun 21, 2016 – By Tess
For the first time in the country’s history, a team of South Korean doctors have successfully implanted a 3D printed heel bone into a patient’s foot, who was suffering from a severe tumor. The innovative surgery is one of over a hundred successful surgeries involving 3D printed implants in Korea this year, and is another example of the many benefits 3D printed prosthetics and implants can offer.
Before 3D printing, the patient in question, a young man in his 20s suffering from a tumor in his foot, would have likely needed to wait for a bone tissue donor, a process which can take a long time, or even have his foot amputated to keep the disease from spreading. With CT scanning and 3D printing technologies, however, the patient was fortunate enough to have a custom made implant ready for him in just a couple weeks.
In making the custom implant, the doctors first captured a CT scan of the patient’s foot, which they were then able to translate into a digital 3D model on which they designed the implant. With the digital design complete, the heel implant was then additively manufactured out of a titanium alloy—a safe and strong material traditionally used for 3D printed implants—using a laser beam additive manufacturing technology.