Patient receives 3D printed titanium hip

Hip surgery conducted with a 3D printed titanium implant and bone stem cell graft has been conducted in Southampton.

The 3D printed hip was designed using the patient’s CT scan and CAD CAM file, thereby matching the patient’s exact specifications and measurements. 

According to Southampton University, the implant will provide a new socket for the ball of the femur bone to enter. Doctors have also inserted a graft containing bone stem cells behind the implant and between the pelvis .

The graft is said to acts as a filler for the loss of bone, with the patient’s own bone marrow cells added to the graft to provide a source of bone stem cells to encourage bone regeneration behind and around the implant.

‘The benefits to the patient through this pioneering procedure are numerous,’ said Douglas Dunlop, consultant orthopaedic surgeon who conducted the operation at Southampton General Hospital. The titanium used to make the hip is more durable and has been printed to match the patient’s exact measurements – this should improve fit and could recue the risk of having to have another surgery. The bone graft material that has been used has excellent biocompatibility and strength and will fill the defect behind the bone well, fusing it all together.’

Over the past decade Dunlop and Prof Richard Oreffo, at Southampton University, have developed a translational research programme to drive bone formation using patient skeletal stem cells in orthopaedics.

The graft used in the operation is made up of a bone scaffold that allows blood to flow through it. Stem cells from the bone marrow will attach to the material and grow new bone, which will support the 3D printed hip implant.

In a statement, Prof Oreffo said: ‘The 3D printing of the implant in titanium, from CT scans of the patient and stem cell graft is cutting edge and offers the possibility of improved outcomes for patients.

‘Fractures and bone loss due to trauma or disease are a significant clinical and socioeconomic problem. Growing bone at the point of injury alongside a hip implant that has been designed to the exact fit of the patient is exciting and offers real opportunities for improved recovery and quality of life.’

The patient, Meryl Richards from Hampshire, was involved in a traffic accident in 1977 and has since undergone six hip operations.

She said: ‘The way medicine has evolved is fantastic. I hope that this will be the last time that I have to have a hip operation. I feel excited to have this pioneering surgery and I can see what a benefit it will have to me.’