UPenn Fabricates 3D Printed Bone Grafts

 Figure 1: Lattice fabricated with Allevi PCL.

Figure 1: Lattice fabricated with Allevi PCL.

This publication from Dr. Chamith S. Rajapakse‘s Lab at the University of Pennsylvania uses an Allevi 2 (previously BioBot 1) to fabricate 3D models of patient-specific bone grafts guided by medical imaging.Researchers used PCL, a thermoplastic, to fabricate constructs. Above is a picture of a lattice fabricated with Allevi PCL.

Abstract: Current methods of bone graft treatment for critical size bone defects can give way to several clinical complications such as limited available bone for autografts, non-matching bone structure, lack of strength which can compromise a patient’s skeletal system, and sterilization processes that can prevent osteogenesis in the case of allografts. We intend to overcome these disadvantages by generating a patient-specific 3D printed bone graft guided by high-resolution medical imaging. Our synthetic model allows us to customize the graft for the patients’ macro- and microstructure and correct any structural deficiencies in the re-meshing process. These 3D-printed models can presumptively serve as the scaffolding for human mesenchymal stem cell (hMSC) engraftment in order to facilitate bone growth. We performed high resolution CT imaging of a cadaveric human proximal femur at 0.030-mm isotropic voxels. We used these images to generate a 3D computer model that mimics bone geometry from micro to macro scale represented by STereoLithography (STL) format. These models were then reformatted to a format that can be interpreted by the 3D printer. To assess how much of the microstructure was replicated, 3D-printed models were re-imaged using micro-CT at 0.025-mm isotropic voxels and compared to original high-resolution CT images used to generate the 3D model in 32 sub-regions. We found a strong correlation between 3D-printed bone volume and volume of bone in the original images used for 3D printing (R2 = 0.97). We expect to further refine our approach with additional testing to create a viable synthetic bone graft with clinical functionality.

Hong, Abigail L. et al. Proceedings Volume 10138, Medical Imaging 2017: Imaging Informatics for Healthcare, Research, and Applications; 101380O (2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2254475