3D printing: Rare cancer sufferer, Len Chandler, back on his feet after receiving titanium printed heel





ABC

Surgeons replaced Len Chandler s heel with a 3D printed titanium replacement.
ABC Surgeons replaced Len Chandler’s heel with a 3D printed titanium replacement.

A 71-year-old with a rare form of cancer is back on his feet after having his heel removed and replaced with a 3D printed titanium replica.

In June, Len Chandler was diagnosed with a rare cartilage cancer in his right heel.

He was advised by doctors at St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne that surgery was the only treatment option and that could involve an amputation of the leg below the knee.

Mr Chandler said he was bracing for the worst possible news.

“I was prepared before I went,” he said.

“I thought if I’ve gotta lose it, I’ve gotta lose it.”

But just a few months later a radical alternative helped him back on his feet.

Combining modern medicine and technology, surgeons scanned Mr Chandler’s heel into a computer to generate a digital copy before creating a plastic 3D model of his new bone.

Scientists at the CSIRO then used the model to print a titanium replica heel.

Professor Peter Choong from St Vincent’s Hospital was then a part of the team to implant the new body part.

“What we try to do with the new prosthesis is simulate the sorts of functions that his bone would have,” he said.

“First of all the shape, strength, also parts of it have to be nice and polished where it has to run or articulate, as we say, against different other bones.

“For example, you have the shin coming down on to it, you have the foot bones in front of it and they provide very complex surfaces that you could not normally match with.”

After surgery in July and about 12 days in hospital Mr Chandler was able to return his home in Rutherglen, in country Victoria.

He said he was recovering well and was already walking with crutches.

“I’ve got no irritation or pain or anything from that. It just fits perfect, I couldn’t ask for anything better,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’ll be kicking a football or not but I’ll be getting around.”



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