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  • Writer's pictureDominic Eggbeer

3D Printing for Chest Wall Reconstruction

Traditional methods of reconstructing the bony and cartilaginous structures of the chest wall following tumour resection are time-consuming and inaccurate. Materials such as PMMA, are also bulky and rigid; they do not replicate the original form and function of the chest wall.

The team at Morriston Hospital have introduced computer aided design and 3d printing methods, which offer a more precise, better planned and more efficient reconstruction of the chest wall. This new approach requires collaboration between Plastic Surgery and the Maxillofacial Lab at Morriston Hospital.

The design process starts with a CT scan, which is segmented into bony, cartilage and tumour tissues using specialist software, Mimics (Materialise, Belgium). A 3D computer model is then imported into Geomagic FreeForm Modelling Plus (3D-Systems). FreeForm is a powerful 3D computer aided design software that allows complex organic shapes to be designed with engineering precision. The rib shapes are refined before a surgical plan is produced for checking by the prescribing surgeon. The final design is then produced using metal 3D printing (also known as additive manufacture) in titanium alloy by local service provider, Renishaw PLC.

The Maxillofacial Lab at Morriston Hospital have now undertaken 4 similar cases using the new approach. All of the cases provided a fantastic outcome for the patient and helped to make the surgical procedure simpler and shorter.

These methods build upon nearly two decades of experience using advanced 3d digital design engineering methods to produce custom implants and other medical devices.

Find out more about custom chest wall implants here.

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