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New 3D Printing Technology May Improve Hip Implants

According to 3DPrint.com, a trade publication for the 3D printing industry, a new technology may improve the patient experience for those who undergo a total hip replacement surgery.  This could be good news for many patients, since a total hip replacement procedure in now the second most common elective surgical procedure performed in the United States at around 300,000 procedures performed each year.

surgery1This new technology is being developed at McGill University, where researchers are using a 3D printer to create a new type of hip replacement medical device.  This new device is designed make the body act as if the hip implant was part of the natural bone, so as not to trigger any type of rejection process.  This will also reduce the need for any antirejection drugs.

The author the article notes that there is an assumption that the reason artificial joints do not last all that long once they are implanted is because they are not strong enough.  However, the author goes on to say that this is a misconception about existing artificial joints, in that the problem is not that they are too weak, but actually that they are too strong.  While this sounds strange at first, he contends that with the material being stronger than human bone, it absorbs all of the stress from moving and walking instead of the surrounding bone serving this function.  This means that the surrounding bone does not undergo the normal triggering process where stress and impact cause cells to regenerate.  Eventually, the natural bone will break down, causing the implant to become loose and start to move around.

When an implant becomes loose, it will rock back and forth. This can cause the patient considerable pain and suffering and will also cause bone spurs and malformations to occur, and eventually the device will either come entirely out of place or fail.  This happens normally between 10 and 20 years after the artificial implant is placed in the patient.  However, as our Boston hip replacement injury attorneys have seen in many cases, if the artificial joint itself was defectively designed, it may fail much sooner.  If you have had an implant for less than five years and are experiencing pain, you should speak with your doctor as soon as possible.  If you are told the implant needs to be replaced, you should speak with an experienced defective products lawyer as soon as possible, because is likely more than normal wear and tear.

While most people have seen 3D printers capable of printing designs in plastic and other polymers, this new design being used will make the artificial hip joints out of titanium.  This material is porous, as it is made up of a lattice structure instead of being a solid block of metal.  This will allow it to act more like natural bone and share the impact with the natural bone, allowing the natural bone to regenerate.   Researchers hope that this new lattice structure of metal will allow patients to lead a more active lifestyle and engage in sporting activities without fear of damaging the artificial joint.

If you are the victim of Massachusetts product liability, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Creating a Better 3D Printed Hip, November 19, 2016, 3DPrint.com

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