The piece, a flexible titanium thorax, has enabled the patient to retain movement in the upper trunk following the operation and has substantially improved breathing. | According to the team, this intervention is a world first.
Flexible and the perfect size: These are some of the key features of the thorax prosthesis implanted in December 2015 by the team of surgeons at the Asturias Central University Hospital (HUCA), in a patient suffering from chondrosarcoma, a malignant tumour on the ribs. This prosthesis is unique in that it is dynamic, in such a way that it simulates the natural movement of the ribs, as well as being made to measure from 3D printing using a mould of the patient’s ribs.
According to the team behind the research, the intervention was a “world first”. Till now, thorax prostheses had a degree of rigidity, restricting movement in the upper trunk in operated patients, as well as hindering breathing. This new prosthesis design enables patients to lead normal lives following operation, as well as carrying a particularly quick recovery period.
According to national and regional media publications, the patient in question recovered in four days, and was already walking with relative ease after just two days. The outcome is the result of the professionalism of the surgeons and scientific-technical options that can duplicate bone structures (thorax), such as 3D printing.
HUCA, University of Oviedo and medical research
The Asturias Central University Hospital has been working alongside the University of Oviedo for years in efforts to drive research forward in the sphere of biomedicine and health. This University is among the most prestigious in Spain in this particular field, and brings together multiple streams of biotechnology-related research.
3D printing in Asturias
Using 3D printing to create prostheses is not a new concept in Asturias. In fact, entities such as PRODINTEC have been working on bioprinting for years. A team of engineers, biologists, biochemists and chemists are working to develop a technology that is capable of printing tissue for use in transplants and prostheses, such as the recent implant carried out at the HUCA.