Three-dimensional printing technology is already used all around the world for a variety of treatments. In China, a 54-year-old woman became last June the first patient to receive the world’s first 3D-printed titanium sternum, according to 3DPrint.com.
She was suffering from chest pain and shortness of breath. Doctors discovered that she had a massive tumor located on her sternum and that the only treatment possible to save her was to completely remove the bone. But when a piece of the sternum is removed, the heart loses its protective wall. The patient is not safe in crowded places and cannot even hug other people.
Surgeons at TangDu Hospital in Xi’an therefore suggested replacing the woman’s sternum with an exact, 3D-printed titanium replica. But because her sternum was very damaged, it was impossible to perform an accurate 3D scan. Instead, they collected data from other women who were the same height, age and weight. They then were able to replicate the bone and successfully implant it in her body.
Celia Sampol has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She worked in Brussels and Washington for national medias (Agence France Presse, Liberation, Europolitics). She's the editor-in-chief of NauticExpo e-magazine and MedicalExpo e-magazine.