A 3D-printed hip joint prosthesis that was developed in China will go into large-scale production after being recently approved by the State Food and Drug Administration.
The prosthetic hip replacement was co-developed by doctors at the the Peking University Third Hospital along with the Chinese private manufacturer AK Medical, and is claimed to be the first 3D-printed hip prosthesis in the world to be government-approved.
3D-printing technology has been utilized more and more in the medical field as it cuts costs and allows doctors to customize artificial implants for specific patients, among other benefits.
The quality of the material – titanium or other high quality metal alloys is regularly used in hip-joint replacements – is often more durable than those of conventional artificial bone implants. Additionally, the process of 3D scanning the patient’s body along with X-raying it allow for more precise and exact measurements and designs of the parts that need replacing. Whereas previous models for prostheses were largely manufactured in mass quantities in factories and often did not fit a patient’s exact needs, the 3D printed implant is designed and created precisely for the patient in question.[…]
Another important benefit of having the 3D printed implant approved within China is the cost of the procedure for patients. Previously, patients were known to have paid up to 100,000 yuan (approximately 15,600 USD) for artificial hip implants as most were shipped from overseas, making the procedure quite inaccessible. With the number of hip replacement surgeries increasing in China by 30% almost every year – 2014 saw about 300,000 patients requiring the procedure – having the 3D printed models approved will greatly decrease the cost of the surgery and effectively make hip replacement surgery more accessible to those in need.
According to People’s Daily, 32 patients have already received 3D-printed hip replacements since June 2015, and dozens of other groundbreaking operations using 3D-printing have been reported in recent months as well.
In July, an infant suffering congenital hydrocephalus underwent a 17-hour surgery to replace her cranium with a 3D-printed titanium mesh, marking the first successful surgery of its kind in China. A month before that, doctors used 3D-printing technology to separate a pair of conjoined twins.
Liu Zhongjun, an orthopaedist who joined in the production of this artificial hip, believes that more 3D-printed implants will be approved for clinical use across the world in the very near future.
[Images via Wikipedia // 3Ders.org]