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Cancer patient receives 3D printed ribs in world first surgery

In a world-first surgery, a Spanish cancer patient has received a 3D printed titanium sternum and rib implant that was designed and manufactured in Melbourne.Suffering from a chest wall sarcoma (a type of tumour that grows in and around the rib cage), the 54-year-old man needed his sternum and a portion of his rib cage replaced.

This part of the chest is notoriously tricky to recreate with prosthetics, due to the complex geometry and intricate structures involved. So the patient’s surgical team from Salamanca University Hospital determined that a fully customisable 3D printed sternum and rib cage was the best option.

That’s when they turned to Melbourne-based medical device company Anatomics, who designed and manufactured the implant utilising CSIRO’s 3D printing facility, Lab 22.

Once the prosthesis was complete it was couriered to Spain and implanted into the patient. Twelve days after the surgery the patient was discharged and has recovered well.