Chinese surgeons use Materialize 3D printing technology to rebuild shoulder |

Chinese surgeons use Materialize 3D printing technology to rebuild shoulder

3d clavicle3D PRINTING GUIDES SURGERY IN CHINA (Orthopedics This Week)

Chinese doctors have used 3D printing to treat an injury referred to as “floating shoulder.” According to Te Edwards writing for, the condition is sufficiently dangerous to a patient that it can result in death. Edwards describes the injury as a combination of ipsilateral scapular neck and clavicular shaft fractures that are caused by a high-energy trauma directly onto the shoulder. Often the cause of the injury is a traffic accident.

In this case a 19-year-old male patient was injured in a traffic accident and doctors found that he had an acromial fracture, a scapular fracture, and a displaced clavicle.

Doctors took a CAT scan of the area of the injury and built a fracture model with a digital workstation called Mimics from Materalise NV. According to Edwards, doctors sliced the areas of the fractures using Cura 50 to produce the necessary files and then Rhinoceros 5.0 to create the printer files. They then sent the data to an industrial grade FDM 3D printer to print the surgical planning model.

Edwards wrote that the 3D visualization model precisely showed the anatomical details of the tissues and bones affected and “allowed the team of surgeons on the case to have an accurate visualization for their preoperative surgical planning.”

The result, said the surgeons, was reduced operative time and a much better operative outcome. Having a reference to prepare for the operation aided them in properly building the shape and curvature of the plates needed to support the repairs done to the patient’s shoulder, they said.

The institutions involved, according to Edwards, were the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery of Union Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery at Puren Hospital, and the University of Science and Technology in Wuhan.