Liesbeth Kemel January 18, 2016

After six hip replacements left her pelvis bone in fragile condition, 71-year old Meryl Richards was in great pain after her left leg pushed through her pelvis bone and caused the leg to be two inches shorter than the other. Soon she would be wheelchair-bound forever, after having walked with crutches and sticks for years. Fortunately, surgeons at the Southampton General Hospital, UK, implanted a 3D-printed hip joint, held it in place with the patient's own stem cells - an unprecedented approach.

custom-hip-implant

Based on precise measurements taken from the patient's CT scans, the implant was custom-made by Belgium-based Materialise subsidiary Mobelife, ensuring a perfect fit, lowering the infection risk and reducing time in the operating theater. The design was then sent to Orthodynamics, UK, to 3D print the implant in titanium, a very durable material. In addition, scientists at Southampton University developed a kind of “glue” of the patient’s bone marrow stem cells to hold the 3D-printed hip implant in place. As the cells grow new bone around the implant, the structure will now be much stronger.

When discussing the surgery with Sky News, Mrs. Richards, the grateful pioneering patient, said, "Hopefully this will give me movement and mobility again. It's absolutely fantastic."

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