Dec 27, 2018

Bulgarian Doctors Implant First 3D Printed Rib

Doctors in Bulgaria created a 3D printed rib for a patient who's own rib had to be removed due to a congenital disease. This use of additive manufacturing is a first, but not the last, for the country.

Ivaylo Josifov is the first Bulgarian to undergo an operation in which one of his ribs was replaced by a 3D printed copy. Josifov’s troubles started when he believed he was suffering from a bout of tonsillitis.

However, after a doctor’s visit, he was told that he actually had a growth underneath his fifth rib. Josifov wasn’t expecting this result as a healthy 35-year-old.

His doctors told him that the growth was a congenital disease which would spread and cause breathing difficulties and his chest muscles to weaken. To ensure this didn’t happen, the doctors decided that Josifov’s rib would need to be completely removed and replaced with an implant.

In order to create a rib which would be an exact replacement, the doctors chose to use 3D printing technology. Additive manufacturing had never been used in this way in Bulgaria before Josifov’s operation.

In order to create a replica which matched Josifov’s own rib shape, curvature, and thickness, the doctors took a 3D scan of the bone. After doing this, the doctors sent the scan to 3dbgprint, a Bulgarian service bureau.

Filip Turzyński, Quality Development Manager at 3DGence, said: “Our 3D printers ensure high 3D dimensional accuracy which was crucial in this particular medical procedure… Individually designed rib model allowed for very accurate implementation of the new element in place of the removed bone. Replacing the missing rib with a 3D printed segment with the same shape, curve, width, and thickness was possible with the use of 3DGence 3D printer.”

3D Printing and Implanting a New Rib

After ensuring the 3D model would fit inside Josifov’s chest wall, the 3dbgprint team used a 3DGence 3D printer and an FDA-approved polyamide.

Before the doctors implanted the 3D printed rib, they prepared it for surgery. Finally, they could begin working on Josifov at Tokuda Hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Professor Minchev, Head of the Cardiothoracic Surgery Department at Tokuda Hospital, said: “This is a new era in thoracic wall reconstruction for patients with tumors that require bone-cartilage structures to be removed. The material used has proven tissue compatibility and the accuracy of reproduction allows for large chest wall resections and their single substitution with individually designed implants.”

Josifov is now back in good health. As a result of this surgery’s success, the doctors plan to work on further projects using 3D printers.


License: The text of "Bulgarian Doctors Implant First 3D Printed Rib" by All3DP is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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