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World-first 3D printed chest reconstruction implant

World-first 3D printed chest reconstruction implant

Professor Hutmacher (R) demonstrating the chest implant with Dr  Matthew Cheng (L). Credit: Metro South Health.

A world-first 3D printed chest reconstruction implant is the outcome of years of research led by Professor Dietmar W. Hutmacher, director of the ARC Industrial Transformation Centre in Additive Biomanufacturing at the Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Biomedical Technologies.

Professor Hutmacher, who pioneered the use of patient-specific 3D printed scaffolds to repair bone and other tissue, said the implant corrected a birth defect called funnel or sunken chest, whereby the ribs and sternum grow inwards, giving a concave appearance.

The flexible implant was made from porous, biodegradable material. Unlike bone scaffolds, the implant contained no rigid ceramics and was made to fit precisely over the chest deformity to allow the patient’s own blood vessels and fat tissue to grow into the implant to create a lasting normal shaped chest.

‘The implant had to be flexible as the chest is in constant movement and so it had to have the ability to change shape without breaking,’ says Professor Hutmacher.

The ground-breaking surgery to implant the scaffold took place at the Princess Alexandra hospital, performed by Dr Michael Wagels, an Adjunct Professor with QUT, who collaborated closely with Professor Hutmacher for many years.

‘An important part of the surgery was injecting the scaffold with the patient’s own fat at the time of implant insertion to commence the reconstruction/regeneration of the highly porous scaffold with more than 90 % of her own tissue,’ Dr Wagels said.


The 3D printed chest reconstruction implant has changed the life of a young medical student recipient.

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