SCIENCE

Behold The World’s First 3D-Printed Rib Cage

It helped save a man's life (and get a little closer to becoming Terminator)

SCIENCE
Sep 14, 2015 at 9:23 PM ET

A few weeks ago, we explored how 3D-printing has transformed the world of prosthetics by creating elaborate limbs quickly and at a reasonable price. The latest life-altering creation seems like something out of a science fiction novel, but comes out of Spain, where doctors fitted a 54-year-old cancer patient with a 3D-printed titanium rib cage.

The surgeons of Salamanca University Hospital opted to remove a section of the man’s ribs out of fear that his cancerous tumors would spread beyond his sternum. So they used the data from the patient’s CT scan and created a partial rib cage that screws into the remaining part of his sternum. This type of highly sophisticated prosthetic would’ve been nearly impossible to manufacture before the rise of 3D printing. In fact, there’s a growing movement to outfit all hospitals around the world with 3D printers to handle cases like these.

The best part of this success story though? The patient was discharged 12 days after the operation and is said to be recovering well.