Assistant Professor Boonrat Lohwongwatana of the Department of Metallurgical Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, in association with the Orthopedics Department of Phramongkutklao Hospital, announced the success of a 3D-printed titanium prosthetic bone innovation. This latest technology was successfully used in surgery to replace fa bone in the thumb of a female patient damaged by a tumor with a titanium prosthetic bone. Post surgery, the patient underwent rehabilitation for a few days before being sent home. After continued rehabilitation, the recovered normal movement and usage of her hand. Assistant Professor Boonrat said that titanium has a similar structure to actual bone, allowing flexibility, an advantage not yet found in other materials. It’s also light, yet strong, durable and compatible with human cells.
This innovation has taken more than two years to develop, from lab experimentation to test application and finally introduction to the public. A Thai-made innovation, the titanium prosthetic bone is cheaper and can be accessed by social security and gold card patients. The innovation is now patent pending and has been discussed in related medical journals worldwide. In addition, surgery on the second patient suffering from a tumor in the wrist is now in preparation.
The first step in the process of making the 3D-printed titanium prosthetic bone is to start by scanning the patient’s bone using a CT scan. The diseased bone is scanned on both sides to create a prototype. The data is collected, analysed and evaluated to distinguish the prototype structure from other related tissue and bone parts. The prototype bone is then modified and mirrored. A computer then helps design the drill on the flipped prototype in coolaboration with a Phramongkutklao Hospital team. This step is important as the prosthetic is stitched to the patients tendon and,therefore, needs to be a suitably sized and positioned according to the drilled hole to complement the design’s durability. This new data is then transmitted to the 3D printer which prints the prototype using resin. After thorough inspection, the resin-made bone structure is used to produce the prosthetic using casting technology and titanium as the raw material. The finished product is polished, cleaned and lastly sterilized for patient use.
“This innovation will give patients a better quality of life with little expense and as it is produced locally. With more than two years of study regarding the safety of usage in humans, the results have been more than satisfactory. Titanium can be used as a prosthetic, and this technology can be adapted with other body parts. Further use of this innovation is now under study. Many departments and organizations have given much attention and look forward to future development,” said Assistant Professor Boonrat.