Engineers with Materialise in Malaysia have designed two 3D printed surgical guides that allowed doctors to save the arm of a 37 year old Malaysian man. The man's left arm had been fractured when he was younger and never healed properly. Over time the bones in his arm began to deform, causing him pain and making it impossible for him to do simple tasks like opening a door.
Materialise worked with the man's surgeons to create 3D representations from a CT scan of his arm. It was decided the man's arm would need to be re-broken and precisely aligned in order to restore normal movement. The unpleasant operation was made easier and faster because Materialise produced customized instruments that fit the shape of the man's bones. Thanks to the instruments, the surgeons were able to cut and drill precisely where it was necessary.
"I have treated patients with a similar deformity and it is very complex surgery as all surgical steps are developed during the operation. Also, several implants need to be made available to choose from as the final decision can only be made intra-operatively," said Dr. Ranjit of the Malaysian surgical team. "I found that being able to see the extent of the deformity before going into the OR and plan the surgery virtually tremendously improved the accuracy and final outcome. The guides meant that I didn't have to spend as much time in the OR identifying the position of the cut and repositioning of the bones. I am excited that, together with Materialise, we can now bring such solutions to the Malaysian people."
This case marks the first time 3D printed surgical guides have been used in Malaysia, although it's definitely not the first time surgeons have used 3D printers for a little help in the operating room.
As part of their efforts to continue making medical advancements available to the Malaysian community, Materialise has launched an outreach effort they are calling TOUCH. The mission of TOUCH is to ensure that all patients - regardless of their ability to pay - can have access to orthopedic solutions like the ones used in this surgery.