The World’s First 3D-Printed Titanium Thumb Successfully Used on a Cancer Patient by Thai Surgeons
Without a doubt, prosthetic is one of those areas that definitely taken a turn for the better with the breakthroughs in 3D printing technology. Amazing reports from across the globe are almost expected to trickle in every now and then regarding how 3D printing has shaped the lives of people and animals that have seen their needs answered by 3D-printed prosthetics. More than just crude devices, these new versions allow the user to move naturally in a way that is almost impossible before cutting edge technology intervened.
Cutting edge technology in 3D printing was exhibited to the full by Thai surgeons based at the Phramongkutlao Hospital and Chulalongkom University when they successfully replaced a woman’s metacarpal thumb bone with a 3D printed prosthetic made out of titanium. It is the first operation of its kind. A video of the said operation was shown to the public showing every step of the way how the process was made. The success lies not only in how the 3D-printed prosthesis was used, but in also how extremely well the patient has responded to the operation. Several months after undergoing the knife, the patient is able to use and move her hand naturally like before when the cancer cells have not yet damaged her bone thumb.
The entire event, as shown on the video did not take an extremely long time. However, the preparations and the studies needed to make the operation a success took more than 3 years in the making. During these times, the team of doctors and researchers made sure that the cancer cells were not growing back and that the entire operational procedure will be inch-perfect.
Rightful credit should not be limited to the orthopedists of the said hospital and university. Boonrat Lohwongtana and the Engineering Department should also be recognized by their ingenuity. The 3D-printed prosthetics’ design was taken from the images of the patient’s undamaged bone thumb. The images were excellent foundations regarding the dimensions and unique structure of the damage metacarpal bone. Lohwongtana also explains that this process can be personalized to meet the specific requirements of anyone who needs such a procedure. It means that the prosthetics have the potential to be used in lieu of any damaged bone. The limitless possibilities with this successful operation is really staggering in the field of medicine.
The procedure may be entirely new, but everything points out to some of the tested principles behind 3D printing technology at its best. As people know very well, the ability to change digital designs at any given time is so much easier compared to making the changes the traditional way. 3D printing technology allows the user to be accurate in the minutest details, which in the case of medicine can mean the rejection of a specific part or a patient’s complete recovery.
The time element as well as the quality of the prosthetics is also raised to another level with 3D printing technology. Prosthetics can be produced at a faster rate and with more durable materials at half the cost of the usual ways of production.