An Australian Man Has Been Given A 3D-Printed Heel In World-First Surgery

CSIRO and Anatomics produced this titanium heel bone implant using CSIRO’s Arcam 3D printer. Image: Anatomics.

A 71-year-old, Len Chandler from Victoria, has been given a 3D printed titanium heel in world-first surgery at Melbourne’s St Vincent’s Hospital.

The builder from Rutherglen was facing losing his leg below the knee following a diagnosis of cancer of the calcaneus, or heel bone.

The new heel was created using CSIRO’s Arcam 3D printer.

Surgeon Peter Choong was aware of CSIRO’s work in titanium 3D after reading about an orthotic horseshoe created in 2013.

Professor Choong contacted the CSIRO which was working with the Victorian-based biotech company Anatomics on metallic implant technology.

Teams at Anatomics and CSIRO developed the design requirements with Professor Choong’s surgical team.

In two weeks from first phone call to surgery, CSIRO and Anatomics were able to custom-design and present an implant part to the St Vincent’s surgical team in July.

Mr Chandler returned to hospital this week for a check-up and said he was recovering well, and able to place some weight on his implant.

“3D printing is a local manufacturing process, meaning Australian companies produce implants for our own patients for our own doctors to use,” says CSIRO’s director of High Performance Metal Industries John Barnes.

“We would no longer have to rely on imported parts that slow the process down and is less personal for the patient.

“At some point in the future we expect that local for-profit businesses will have the capacity to work on projects like this, and meanwhile the CSIRO is here to help local industry grow and build momentum.”

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