Man gets new hip courtesy of 3-D printer

Christchurch man Tim Anderson'€™s new hip was created by a 3-D printer.
Stacey Squire

Christchurch man Tim Anderson'€™s new hip was created by a 3-D printer.

After smashing his hip socket and ruining his femur, Tim Anderson, a 51-year-old dad, engineer and cyclist is feeling cautiously optimistic.

His sunny outlook and new hip are the result of the use of a 3-D printer in Colorado, United States, to create a brand new titanium hip.

The self-professed technical geek said he enjoyed seeing the construction of his new hip on surgeon Dr James Burns' computer screen and the plastic version of the implant on his desk.

While "off-the-shelf"' implants would do for most in need of a joint replacement, for Anderson's more complicated case, another solution was required.

A bike accident during a holiday in Central Otago in May ruined his hip socket and broke his femur.

"I hit a bit of gravel and fell off on to a concrete kerb."

It was the second such injury for Anderson who had broken his pelvis badly in a car accident four years earlier.

Surgeons had pieced his pelvis back together with metal plates at the time.

After the cycling misadventure surgeons again attempted patch-up surgery in Dunedin Hospital, attempting to save Anderson's femur and ball joint with screws.

However, over the next five months Anderson experienced no improvement.

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"For some reason the fracture hadn't mended, the blood flow was not good. The bone was starting to deteriorate, the pins were coming loose, my ability to put any weight on that leg got worse, the pain got worse."

Having given up work, and with his whole right side swollen, Anderson had further surgery to have the pins removed.

He was desperate before being referred to Christchurch based medical company Ossis Ltd.

They quickly determined a custom-built solution was needed and sent Anderson for a CT scan.

This was the first step for the company's design engineer Tim Dunn to create a digital template for Anderson's new hip.

A partner company in Colorado, US, created a plastic mould and a titanium implant with 3-D printers in four days, Dunn said.

Back in Christchurch, the implant was further refined, while Burns and his team used the plastic model to practise on.

The company has performed 55 successful operations since 2007 in Australia and New Zealand and is poised to enter the European market within the next year.

Anderson said his new hip was causing him no pain and he could move it well.

"I'm hoping I will be able to get back on the bike in two weeks."

 - The Press


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