The idea of using 3D printing to help print replacements for body parts like bones isn’t new and we’ve seen it done before. However recently thanks to mechanical engineering professor Damiano Pasini at McGill University, he has managed to 3D print a titanium hip replacement (via Engadget) that will not only last longer, but will also reduce the amount of pain to its wearer.
So how does that work? Right now with existing hip replacements, how it works is that it takes the stress off your living bone. We suppose this is good if you’re injured there, but long term it also means that your bone can weaken and deteriorate, kind of like if you don’t use certain muscles for a long time. This can lead to painful joints and will ultimately require a second hip replacement surgery.
According to Pasini, he believes that his creation will overcome those problems as it mimics a hollowed-out tetrahedra with the porousness of actual bone. “So because the implant loosely mimics the cellular structure of the porous part of the surrounding femur, it can ‘trick’ the living bone into keeping on working and staying alive. This means that our implant avoids many of the problems associated with those in current use.”
The best part is that Pasini’s creation is that they will work with existing hip replacement techniques, which means that surgeons won’t need to undergo additional training which could lead to delays. It is expected that Pasini’s 3D printed titanium hip replacements could start being used in the next 3-5 years.