Medical professionals are using 3d printing for surgery prep, actual surgeries and customized prosthetics but a first was recently made when a young man received a 3d printed heel bone in South Korea.
The titanium heel was 3d printed with laser technology and implanted successfully.
The patient, only in his twenties and serving the South Korean armed forces, had suffered the effects of cancer and tumor removal and was facing the possibility of having his foot amputated. Luckily, his doctor recommended an alternative approach to amputation and underwent surgery to have his heel bone replaced with a precise replica made specifically for his body.
“The heel bone is strong enough to support the patient’s weight, and it perfectly fits his anatomy. This is definitely lowering the probability of a complication developing down the line.” said Dr. Hyun-Guy.
This is not the first surgery done with the aid of 3d printing performed in South Korea. There have been more than 100 surgeries involving 3d printed medical implants, including a patient that had a 3d printed pelvic bone implanted. That procedure was done after several attempts to use traditional procedures and when they failed, the doctors turned to a new approach - 3d printing a replacement pelvic bone.
Dr. Shin Dong-ah, one of the doctors involved in the procedure noted recently that “the ligaments have grown out and are perfectly attached to the implanted pelvic bone, meaning the surgery was a success.”