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World’s First 3D Printed Polymer Rib Cage Reconstruction

The world’s first Polymer rib cage reconstruction was recently completed with a collaboration between Australian company Anatomics and Singapore’s Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH).

Anatomics is an early pioneer in using 3D printing for surgeries. The company has garnered experience in personalized implants, surgical planning and 3D printed medical devices. In thoracic surgery, CMF implants and orthopedics, the firm has rolled out software solutions, implants and materials for surgical use. Patient-specific surgical tools, spinal cages, sternums or software were also created by Anatomics to design surgical implants.

The StarPore Polymer Tissue

3D Printed Ribs

Anatomics’ StarPore polymer tissue scaffold helped a 26 year old cancer patient who needed a new rib cage. In addition to the 3D printed rib cage reconstruction itself, patient-specific surgical guides, medical models and cutting guides and templates were also created as surgery aids.

The surgery was conducted by Dr Ahneez Ahmed, TTSH’s Head of Service of Thoracic Surgery and his team.

The StarPore has, “strength, flexibility and capacity to allow cell and tissue ingrowth. StarPore scaffolding will last for a patient’s life span whilst keeping the same shape, with natural tissue holding it in place. The material provides a scaffold for human tissue to grab onto and grow into, due to biological trabecular porosity similar to that found in the body,” said Dr Ahneez Ahmed.

Reduced Operating Time

In addition, Dr Aneez Ahmed also remarked,

“There’s nothing like a like for like comparison with the StarPore solution for this case. Thus the StarPore solution definitely improves the patient’s health outcome as there is no alternative possible…An important advantage of the Anatomics solution was the ease of use. Instead of doing one rib at a time, multiple times, in the conventional way, we cut out and detached the affected chest wall and inserted the implant easily, making the reconstruction very easy.

“The Anatomics personalized solution (StarPore implant, BioModel, 3DP cutting guide and 3DP implant positioning template) helped achieve the success. The usual chest wall reconstruction takes an average of about 4-6 hours. We were able to do this case in about two and a half hours.”

Patient-specific implants have long been touted as the future of implantology and orthopedics. Theoretically, they should result in quicker procedures, less blood loss and faster recovery times. In some cases, this may be true while in others however, a standard implant would suffice. In terms of novel procedures, medical professionals have been receptive to integrating 3D printing with digital surgical planning. The method is seen as a tried and tested route to the unknown and big new results. As a result, this approach de-risks the procedure and makes planning an execution much clearer. 


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