Bone cancer may soon be treated using robotics and a 3D printer. Robot-assisted surgeons will remove the diseased bone, and while the patient is in the operating theatre, technicians will scan the removed piece of bone, design an implant that matches it and print it in titanium 64, or another biocompatible metal. Then, the surgeon will implant it in the bone.
That’s the idea, anyway. Just in Time Implants is a five-year project that has only just got under way—a collaboration between global medical company Stryker, two Australian universities and a Melbourne hospital.
“Our aim is to bring the technology to the theatre,” says lead researcher Milan Brandt, from RMIT University. “While patients are having their cancer removed in the operating theatre, in the next room, we are custom-printing an implant to precisely fill the space left after removal of the diseased bone.”