Stem cell therapies and 3D printing of body parts have been making a splash in the medical community, potentially offering treatment for a variety of very different diseases and conditions. Physicians at University of Southampton have successfully brought the two technologies together to aid a woman with a damaged hip to restore her anatomy to a more natural state.
The new hip was printed from titanium and was based on the patient’s own CT scans, allowing a perfect fit for the ball of the femur bone to fit into the artificial socket. To promote natural healing around the implant and to aid bone restoration, a graft seeded with the patient’s own bone marrow cells was positioned behind the implant. Though the surgery went well, there’s still a good deal of waiting time left to see how the therapy benefits the patient in the longer term.
Some details according to University of Southampton:
The graft used in this 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. This will support the 3D printed hip implant.
For the patient, Meryl Richards, from Hampshire, the procedure means an end to her hip troubles. In 1977 she was involved in a traffic accident and since then has had to have six operations to mend her hip.
She says: “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.”