A cancer diagnosis always comes as a shock. In the case of a boy from Croatia this was particularly true as an aggressive form of bone cancer had destroyed the teenager's hip. The only option for the doctors treating him was a complete reconstruction of the hip bone. The 3D printing experts at Alphaform, a company with extensive experience in the medical sector, successfully produced the implant relying on industrial metal 3D printing from EOS.
The surgeon's challenge: the 15-year-old patient from Croatia had a primary bone tumor, as such not formed by metastasis and lying directly on the bone. The malignancies generally grow destructively, meaning that the original tissue must be removed. A complete arthroplasty of the hip was the fundamental prerequisite for ensuring the cancer cells did not continue to spread in the boy's body. An intervention of this type limits the mobility of the joint, and thus the mobility of the patient. With a precision implant, a patient's motor skills can largely remain unaffected in the future. In the hip area, the precise shaping of the replacement bone is particularly important.
In addition to the pure destructive force of the cancer, time was crucial because the illness was spreading with speed. The new implant also had to meet the doctors' weight specifications. The Croatian surgical team ordered an implant from Alphaform that had to be delivered fast and needed to be lightweight, yet precise. Christoph Erhardt, Director of Additive Manufacturing at Alphaform AG adds: "The design process was a real challenge. We received the complete 3D data including the cavities from Instrumentaria. Based on this we were able to start with the precise manufacture of the implant."
The implant was produced within one week on the EOSINT M 280 using a stable yet light titanium alloy. The process, from the initial computer sketches to the final implant, took only six weeks. This period included the sophisticated finishing of the artificial bone.
The subsequent operation in May 2014 was a great success. First the team of doctors completely removed all of the parts affected by the cancer and then the new artificial hip was inserted, complete with the integrated joint. A part of the young patient's thigh was replaced so that both joint parts fit within one another perfectly. As such, all medical requirements for the implant were fulfilled and laid the foundation for the patient's successful recovery.
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