Porous 3D printed titanium hips can mimic the quality of real bones, and potentially extend the life of a hip replacement.
A mechanical engineering professor at McGill University has developed 3D printed titanium hips which can fool surrounding bones into working harder for longer.
Why? Because a big problem with existing hip replacements is that they are actually too rigid, and take more stress than the living bones alongside them. This in turn causes the bones to weaken and deteriorate.
Over time, this can lead to painful joints and eventually the need for a second hip replacement. Not an ideal scenario if there isn’t any living bone remaining for the artificial joint to graft on to.
Enter 3D printed Titanium hips. In much the same way that 3D printed implants can encourage bones to heal, the design by Damiano Pasini helps the body heal itself. As he explains:
“Because the implant loosely mimics the cellular structure of the porous part of the surrounding femur, it can ‘trick’ the living bone into keeping on working and staying alive. This means that our implant avoids many of the problems associated with those in current use.”
Structure of 3D Printed Titanium Hips Resemble the Eiffel Tower
Pasini’s femoral stem is fabricated with a hollowed-out tetrahedra design that resembles the porousness of actual bone, as opposed to the dense materials of current hip replacement technology.
And the design of the new hip replacement is echoed by the most unlikely of sources — the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. According to Pasini:
“What we’ve done throughout the femoral stem is to replicate the gradations of density found in a real femur by using hollowed-out tetrahedra. Despite the fact that there are spaces within the tetrahedra, these forms are incredibly strong and rigid so they’re a very efficient way of carrying a load. Just think of the lattice-work in the legs of the Tour Eiffel.”
As an added bonus, the 3D printed Titanium hips will also work with existing hip replacement techniques. This means surgeons won’t need to undergo any additional training when they begin implementing the new hip replacements in the next three to five years.
Source: Journal of Orthopaedic Research
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