3D bones custom made... while you're in surgery

Tuesday, 07 November, 2017

3D bones custom made... while you're in surgery

3D implants are set to revolutionise the way bone cancer is treated.

Lead researcher RMIT’s Professor Milan Brandt and the project team will combine 3D printing, robotic surgery and advanced manufacturing to create tailored implants for patients with bone cancer.

“Our aim is to bring the technology to the theatre,” Brandt said. “While patients are having their cancer removed in the operating theatre, in the next room, we are custom printing an implant to precisely fill the space left after removal of the diseased bone.”

The technology will result from a major new Australian research project using 3D implants and robotic surgery, expected to radically advance the way physicians surgically treat tumours and bone cancer.

It is also anticipated to dramatically improve patient and healthcare outcomes. The five-year project, ‘Just in time implants’, brings together the Australian Government, RMIT University, the University of Technology Sydney (UTS), St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne and global medical technology company Stryker.

Worth more than $12.1 million in research effort, the work is partially funded by Stryker with co-funding from the Innovative Manufacturing Cooperative Research Centre (IMCRC), which is contributing $2.36 million in cash.

St Vincent’s Hospital’s Professor Peter Choong said just-in-time implants will transform the delivery of care for people with bone cancer.

“By combining specialised imaging techniques, 3D printing and the accuracy of robotic assisted surgery, we are aiming to deliver a personalised implant in time for the surgeon to remove the cancer and repair the patient’s bone in the one operation,” Choong said. “This process will expand the surgical options available to patients and surgeons and increase the potential for limb-saving surgery.”

The novel process represents a major shift in the way implants are designed, manufactured and supplied, and could lead to bespoke local manufacturing.

3D bone image credit: ©RMIT

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