Advances in 3D metal printing and computer modeling are pushing the frontiers of orthopaedic reconstruction. Many of these advances are detailed in a new book co-edited by Dr. Felasfa Wodajo, Orthopaedic Oncologist, Virginia Cancer Specialists (Fig 1). As a musculoskeletal tumor surgeon, Dr. Wodajo often encounters challenges for which there are no readily available solutions. 3D printing has been instrumental for some of these patients. Two examples are shown here.
The first example is a woman who underwent knee surgery at an outside hospital that left one half of her femur destroyed, causing her continuous pain. The standard solution would be removing and replacing her entire distal femur and knee joint. Instead, Dr. Wodajo worked closely with engineers to design an implant that precisely replaced the damaged portions of her femur, leaving the rest of her knee joint intact (Fig 2). With her pain relieved, she has returned to work.
The second example is a 10 year old boy with osteosarcoma of his femur. Pediatric patients with bone sarcomas often present the greatest surgical challenges. In the cases where tumor approaches the joint but spares a small segment of normal bone, 3D printing allows for creation of a custom prosthesis that preserves the child’s native knee joint (Fig 3). As the child grows, the mid portion is replaced with an expandable component. Compared to replacing the femur and knee joint with a metal prosthesis, the difference in function is dramatic.
These examples show how creative solutions to real patient problems can be achieved using 3D printing.
Did you know that sarcomas represent about 1% of all malignancies? For this reason, they are rarely suspected and often misdiagnosed. Sarcomas can occur in bones or soft tissues. It is important that patients with suspected or known sarcomas be referred immediately to specialists with experience in diagnosing and treating these tumors.
The Virginia Cancer Specialists Sarcoma Center provides expert surgical, medical and radiation oncology care for primary bone and soft tissue cancers in adult and pediatric patients. Our sarcoma team includes a nurse coordinator, who guides patients through treatment while providing education and psycho-social support, as well as staff members who help expedite office, biopsy and surgical scheduling.