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Published on February 6th, 2017 | by Geetika Bhasin

Doctors at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital use 3D printing to replace a patient’s talus bone

A motorcycle accident victim lost his talus in the crash in April 2015. Using 3D printing, the doctors at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital in Hong Kong have created a metal talus which will enable the victim to walk properly after the treatment. The talus attaches the foot to the leg and makes the lower part of the ankle joint.

The loss of the talus could disable the victim from walking ever again. The doctors made a metal replica of the talus using 3D printing, a move that was never that was never tried before. They obtained the CT scan of the right ankle and converted the scan into a 3D printable model for the left foot. The designing and printing of the metal talus took about two weeks. The patient’s talus restoring surgery, however, had to be carried sixteen months after the accident as the foot was inflamed. A 3D printed cement spacer was fit meanwhile in the patient’s ankle.

Once the 3D printed talus was fit in the foot, mobility was restored in the patient’s ankle. The foot could be rotated at 15 degrees with the aid of a walking stick. The 3D printed implant is permanent and will not need replacement as in the case of other 3D implants. After the successful implantation of the talus, the first of its kind in Hong Kong, the doctors at the Pamela Youde Nethersole Eastern Hospital have decided to use the 3D printed technology into future treatments. Using 3D printing, the doctors can customize the bone implants for different patients. The patients will receive specific implants that are well suited to their body parts.

Dr. Chiu Shin-Yeung, a doctor at the hospital said that they could acquire exact replicas using scans of the opposite limb and then use the scan to create the exact fit. The doctors even said that patients of bone cancer could greatly benefit from this technology.

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