Patient receives 3D-printed rib implant in breakthrough procedure

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3D printing made some big advances in the medical domain last year, and it seems like that trend isn’t going to slow down any time soon. Proving that point is an impressive procedure recently carried out in Bulgaria, in which a patient received one of the first 3D-printed ribs as part of a potentially lifesaving operation. It demonstrated a new approach to create rib implants, using a process called fused deposition modeling (FDM), which is cheaper in both machine and material costs than other similar attempts.

“[The] patient, Ivaylo Josifov, was diagnosed with a rib deformation,” Mateusz Sidorowicz, director of marketing at 3DGence, the company which made the 3D printer, told Digital Trends. “The doctors were concerned that the deformity may progress, and decided to replace the rib with an implant. Unfortunately, traditional implants — made from titanium, for example — are very expensive. Also, the titanium itself is not a perfect material for replacing ribs.”

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