A titanium rib cage . That has to be a creation straight out of the Marvel universe, right? WRONG. It is is the product of the amazing world of science and technology and a gift to a 54-year-old cancer patient.
After losing his sternum and part of his rib cage to a cancerous tumor, the doctors of Salamanca University Hospital in Spain decided that the prosthetic rib cage would be the best and safest option in the long run. Though titanium prosthetics are not new to the medical world, the surgery is the first of its kind and the process is far from a walk in the park.
How is it done?
The replication process is complicated because the prosthetic rib cage has to be specifically customized for the patient using high resolution CT scanning. After the scans are taken, Australian-based medical device company Anatomics then both designs and builds the prosthetic, using an electronic beam Arcam 3D printer. At this point you are definitely in need of an explanation.
Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization representative explains that “The printer works by directing an electron beam at a bed of titanium powder in order to melt it. This process is then repeated, building the product up layer-by-layer until you have a complete implant.”
As complicated as it sounds, after surgery the patient was released from the hospital 12 days after and is recuperating quite well. Simply amazing.