3D-Printed Patient-Specific Medical Implants


Scientists of the CSIR-Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO), Chandigarh, have developed a technology for manufacturing patient-specific medical implants for several human body parts. The technology has been recently transferred to industry for commercial production and marketing of the product.

Although medical implants of biocompatible metals are now common in cases of fractured bone surgeries, due to the very complex anatomy of the human body surgeons have to face extreme challenges in reconstructive surgeries. Implants made with common specifications don’t fit well in different patients.

Patient-specific implants are required in trauma, diseases like cancer, fungal infection or other reconstructive surgeries for specifically targeted patients. Patient-specific implants are also required in the case of unavailability of implants for specific sites of the human body or when available implants do not fulfil the anatomical requirement of a patient. Researchers worldwide are in a race to make patient-specific implants.

Scientists at CSIR-CSIO have attempted to solve this complex problem with the help of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) followed by 3D printing of the biocompatible metals. In this process, the patient’s CT-Scan/MRI data is utilised to design the implant with specifications compatible with patients. 

3D printing of metal involves melting the metal powder with the help of high power lasers. Different metals have different melting temperatures. Titanium is the preferred metal for implants because of its biocompatibility. Different titanium alloys are now used due to their compatibility with the human body and their mechanical properties. CSIR-CSIO scientists are using the Titanium grade 23 biocompatible alloys for making patient-specific implants. The fabrication time varies according to the size and complexity of the implants.

Vijay K. Meena, one of the inventors and a principal scientist at CSIR-CSIO, says, “There are around 53 fatal road accidents occurring every hour. In many cases, the available implants are not able to fulfil the requirement due to the type and extent of injury to the patient. Many accidents leave the patient’s face disfigured. With this technology, the patient’s face can be restored. It will also help in making the implants to replace the bones removed due to bone cancer and fungal infections. This technology has the potential to fabricate implants for many amputations and joint replacements.” 

The CSIO researchers are also fabricating patient-specific implants with solid and porous metal interfaces depending upon the requirement. The porous or lattice structure of the implant improves the chances of bone tissue growth into the implant thus giving a platform for biological fixation between the implant and host bone. These implants, fabricated by iARM lab of CSIO are being used in hip, spine, etc. 


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