CSIRO, Anatomics partnership sees US patient receive 3D printed sternal and rib cage

3d rendered illustration of the male nerve system

A partnership between CSIRO and Australian medical device company Anatomics has led to the first successful implantation of a 3D printed titanium and polymer sternal and rib cage in a US patient. 

Ms Penelope Heller, a 20 year old American, who was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma (a rare bone cancer) in 2014, had to have her cancer affected sternum removed. Her surgeon fashioned a replacement sternum and ribcage using off-the-shelf solutions and while the procedure effectively removed the cancer, ongoing pain and problems breathing made post-op life unpleasant.

On 2 August, 2017, Heller underwent further surgery to replace her implant with a customised sternum and partial ribcage made from 3D printed titanium and combined with Anatomics’ “PoreStar” technology, a unique porous polyethylene material providing “bone-like” architecture to facilitate tissue integration.

It is the first time this technology has been used in the US and only the second time in the world that a 3D-printed composite sternum and ribcage has been implanted.

CSIRO’s director of manufacturing Dr Keith McLean said the operation is the latest success story for the CSIRO-Anatomics partnership which began in 2014.

“I’m proud of our work with Anatomics that has enabled patients around the world to lead normal lives,” Dr McLean said.

The two parties produced the world first sternum and rib cage prosthetics for a cancer patient in Spain in 2015, and another for a British man who received the implant in 2016 after his sternum was removed following a rare disease.

The 2016 implantation marked another world’s first of a composite 3D printed titanium and polyethylene polymer prosthesis. 

Anatomics executive chairman Dr Paul D’Urso said over the past 25 years there have been thousands of successful Anatomics’ implantations in patients in Europe, Australia and now the U.S.

“Anatomics technology is shaping the future of the prosthetics industry using improvements in scanning, design and fabrication technology,” Dr D’Urso said.

“Anatomics’ advanced capabilities in personalised healthcare have opened new doors for patients in need of implants that are customised for them rather than having to use mass produced ‘off-the-shelf’ devices that don’t fit as well,” he said.