Doctors in China use 3D printing to assist in complicated bone fixation surgery

Doctors in China use 3D printing to assist in complicated bone fixation surgery

on January 19, 2014, 43-year-old Zhang, who fell from 3 meters above the ground, was brought to the emergency department of the Third Affiliated Hospital of Southern Medical University. The fall resulted in a right acetabular fracture, right sided distal radius fractures and his pelvic bones were broken into four pieces.

Normally during an acetabular open reduction surgery doctors have to make a 20-30cm incision which could cause great blood loss. This time the orthopedic trauma team led by Professor Zeng Shenjun printed out a pelvic model of the patient on a 3D printer before the surgery was conducted. The 3D printed models served to help surgeons better prepare for tricky operations by practicing first on the models. The team designed surgical plan based on the 3D printed model and practiced a series of preoperative surgical simulations.


On January 24, after all the preparation work is completed, doctors performed an acetabular fracture fixation surgery on the patient.

During the surgical procedure, the prebent steel plate was placed in the right position and fixed with pre-measured screws. The 3D printed model allows doctors to prepare the right size and length of the plate and screws before the operation. It helps surgeons also in knowing what steps or precautions to take in advance to avoid problems.

The surgery took only about one hour and the small incision caused only 80 ml of intraoperative bleeding. "With traditional procedure, the bleeding would be at least 1000 ml." said surgoen Jin Dadi. "3D printing helps to reduce the medical errors and the suffering of the patients drastically".

The patient responded very good to the procedure. One day later, Mr. Zhang could stand up and walk several steps with the assistance of sticks.


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