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Moscow surgeons used 3D printing in a landmark operation

Doctors from the clinic of trauma surgery within the Sechenov University performed a unique operation. For the first time in practice, they implanted a titanium prosthesis into the anterior part of a patient’s pelvis. The implant was made using computer tomography and a 3D printer. Without this prosthesis, the patient would remain immobile for the rest of her life.

Valentina, 52, was looking forward for the third surgery. Although the operation she was about to undergo this time had never been carried out anywhere in Russia, the patient was calm and focused on the recommendations of her doctors.

The woman had been first operated on 2 years earlier in the Crimea on oncology grounds. Back then surgeons had to remove some of the pelvic organs together with the tumor. This year the condition manifested itself in a more severe form.

‘There was a new relapse around the neck of the urinary bladder that massively affected the pubic bone. It’s the bone that closes up the pelvic ring together with the sacral bone, which jointly hold the lower limbs in place, supporting the upper body. Dismemberment of the pelvic ring usually prevents the affected person from moving freely, landing them in bed, not even in a wheelchair,’ explains Piotr Tsarkov, director of the Clinic of Coloproctology and Minimally Invasive Surgery within the Sechenov University.

The tumor, however, had to be removed together with a part of the bone, otherwise the woman would have died. The chance of going back to normal life was given to her in the clinic of trauma surgery within the Sechenov University. It happened to be the place where surgeons agreed to perform the unique operation, closing a rather large gap in the bone tissue with a 3D-printed titanium implant.

‘Similar surgeries are performed in our clinic, as well as in some other healthcare facilities in the Russian Federation, but such restoration of the anterior part of the pelvic bones after previous interventions has been performed for the first time ever,’ says Aleksey Lygachin, director of the Clinic of Trauma Surgery, Orthopedics and Joint Pathologies within the Sechenov University.

Titanium implants are robust duplicates of human bones. The metal does not get oxidised in the body, and the bones should fuse well with it.

‘Together with the surgeons, we had to completely recreate the integrity of the pelvic ring to ensure its stability, and after some time there will be another reinforcing intervention after the bone tissue grows into the porous structure of the implant,’ clarifies Olga Efimenko, technology director of the company that designs and manufactures medical products.

The medical specialists are certain that 3D-printed titanium implants will soon become an affordable alternative to conventional prosthetic care. Valentina’s surgery went well, and her rehabilitation will only take 2-3 months. Doctors are satisfied with the outcome and hope to schedule more of such surgeries in the nearest future.

Tatiana Sidorova, Konstantin Stepanov-Molodov, TV Center

Source: TV Center official website
Date: April 18, 2019