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Phramongkutklao Hospital and Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Engineering have successfully replaced a patient’s thumb bone with an artificial one made of titanium.
Lt. Col. Supichai Charoenwareekul, MD, the Director of Orthopedic Department at Phramongkutklao, said a female patient, age 37, has had her first metacarpal bone removed after it was destroyed by a giant cell tumor.
In the past, bone from other parts of the body would be used to replace the one that were surgically removed. However, the patient would not be able to move the reconstructed limb.
To solve this problem, Phramongkutkhlao Hospital and a team of researchers from Chulalongkorn University’s Innovative Metal Research Unit used 3-D printing to create a mirror image of the opposite hand’s thumb bone out of titanium.
The artificial bone was then placed inside the patient’s thumb and stitched with the finger’s tendons. Four months after the bone replacement operation, the patient was able to move her thumb without any complications from the surgery, representing a remarkable achievement in the history of medicine.