A British surgeon has used the latest 3D-printing techniques to create a new pelvis for a man who had lost half his original one to cancer.
The patient is now able to walk with the aid of a stick after the transplant of the first pelvis of its kind.
Craig Gerrand, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, used the procedure on a patient in his 60s who had to have half his pelvis removed to stop the spread of bone cancer.
Scans allowed his team to measure exactly how much bone would be removed. A replacement to fill the gap was then created on a 3D printer by laying down successive layers of titanium powder fused together by laser.
The titanium pelvis was coated with a mineral into which the remaining bone could grow and a standard hip replacement was fitted into the new socket.
The patient suffered from a rare bone cancer called chondrosarcoma.
"The only option was to remove half of the pelvis," said Mr Gerrand, as medication hadn't worked.
Standard implants do not always fit well – and in this case so much bone needed removing that nothing would have been left to which an implant could have been attached, the surgeon said.
"The cancer affected virtually the whole right side of the pelvis (the ring of bones that connect the base of the spine to the thigh)," said Mr Gerrand.
"It's fantastic that you can do cool surgery," Mr Gerrand said, "but the real innovation will be when we don't have to do this at all, because we have developed new treatments that can stop the cancer in its tracks." (© Daily Telegraph, London)