Three patients from Italy’s National Institute of Rome Tumori Regina Elena have received 3D printed titanium implants.

All the patients have been diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of cancer that causes the disintegration of their bones, requiring them to be removed and replaced with prosthetic implants.

This is the first hospital in Italy to make use of customised titanium implants that effectively allow physicians to repair or replace damaged bones. To produce the implants, the team used an Arcam electron beam melting (EBM) process.

According to Futurism, the success of the procedure will allow the hospital to explore how they can further expand the use of 3D printed prosthetics, with three more patients already lined up to receive the procedure.

Typically, a bone damaged by cancer will require a modular bone prosthetic that closely matches the original. However, in certain cases, the damage caused by cancer or tumours that require extraction could lead to damage that traditional prostheses cannot mend. In these cases, the entire limb has to be removed.

But recently researchers have found a way to use CT data to reconstruct the damaged bone and 3D print a custom titanium implant. This method not only allows the repair of an entire bone (instead of cutting off the limb), but it also lowers the risk of infection as well as speeds up recovery time for patients.

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