To create the titanium 3D-printed grafts, surgeons look at images from CT scans to evaluate how much bone needs to be removed. They then use the scans to design an appropriate cage to fill in the gaps. Similar grafts have been used for patients with vertebral implants and occasionally rib cage implants, the article noted.
The first 3D-printed bone graft for a limb-saving operation was placed in May by physicians at the trauma and orthopedic team at the St George's University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in London. The patient, 60-year-old Russell Neighbour, underwent the procedure after reportedly falling from a ladder and fracturing his right tibia and fibula.
When the fracture failed to hail, the team recommended a custom printed bone graft instead of amputation or further surgery. During the operation, physicians removed 6 cm of the patient's shin bone and replaced it with the titanium cage.
"The cage is made of porous metal to allow new bone to grow through and is exactly the same shape as the piece of bone we cut away," explained Alex Trompeter, consultant orthopaedic trauma and limb reconstruction surgeon in the article.
Since the surgery, Neighbour is recovering at home. His leg is already bearing his full weight, and he is able to walk comfortably for the first time in more than a year, according to Trompeter.
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