The very first 3D-printed shoulder and glenoid cavity prosthesis will be used on a patient in the Netherlands. Theoretically, this prosthetic shoulder should give the patient a full range of motion.
“A few weeks before the operation, we take a CT scan of the shoulder of the patient,” explained orthopedic surgeon Dr. Cornelis Visser of Rijnland Hospital. “This produces a 3D image. From this image, the optimum position of the prosthesis is determined, and a custom-made mold is printed in the United States. Previously, the position of the prosthesis was only determined during the operation, by the naked eye. Now I use this unique (3D printed) mold. This allows me to connect to the unique anatomy of the patient, by using the entire prosthesis.”
The 3D-printed prosthetic is said to feel more natural than traditional shoulder replacements, and should have the ability to move better. It will also provide an equal distribution of force on the joint, which should lengthen the lifespan of the prosthesis.
This marks the first time 3D printing technology has been used for shoulder replacement surgery in the Netherlands. The same has been done before for knee prosthetics.