Surgeons in Wales used a 3D printed titanium implant to rebuild the chest of a 71-year-old man after a cancer removal operation which took three ribs and part of his breast bone.
3D printing has many medical uses, and for one of the first times in the UK, a titanium implant was 3D printed for a patient who required extensive surgery. Surgeons used this 3D printed implant, rather than a cement prosthetic, to rebuild the man’s chest.
Peter Maggs had cancer in his chest and during surgery surgeons removed the tumor, which had grown to the size of a tennis ball, but also some of his breastbone and three ribs.
The operation took eight hours and was carried out by surgeons at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales. Cardiothoracic surgeon Ira Goldsmith explains:
“It was a very extensive growth that needed to be removed. However, removing it also meant removing part of the breastbone and three ribs… That would leave a large defect that could have destabilised the entire chest wall and reconstructing it was going to be a very complex procedure.”
Maggs’ New Titanium Ribs and Breastbone
In similar operations, a cement prosthetic is the typical choice. Such a prosthetic is created during the surgery and takes an hour and a half to make.
However, this time around, surgeon’s chose to use a titanium implant which was 3D printed in Wales ahead of time. One of the main benefits for using a 3D printed prosthetic is that it can be completely bespoke.
Surgeons designed the implant and outsourced the 3D printing. Goldsmith then carried out the surgery with consultant surgeon Thomas Bragg and they had the implant on hand to use as soon as they needed it.
This meant reducing the operating time, which was essential for Maggs who suffers from other health issues. Interestingly, Goldsmith sewed the implant into place, rather than using screws, to ensure it doesn’t break.
Everything went well with the surgery and Maggs, from Abergavenny, Wales, said: “I’m feeling good now. Mr Goldsmith is a saint to me – and Mr Bragg.”