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  • Writer's pictureRavi Mallina

Wrist Deformity Following a Fracture: The Role of 3D Printing

Deformity of the extremities can be significantly disabling, interfering with one’s ability to carry on with day to day activities. One of the common conditions that require orthopaedic intervention is forearm deformity. Forearm deformities can occur due to various reasons, such as traumatic injury(broken bones), congenital defect(deformity present since birth), or bone disease.



Background about 3D Printing in Orthopaedic Surgery

Traditionally, orthopaedic surgeons correct forearm deformities through invasive surgeries that involve lengthy recovery periods. However, with the advancement of 3D printing technology, it is now possible to create custom-made implants and surgical tools that facilitate faster, safer, and more accurate correction procedures.

The role of 3D printing in orthopaedics is significant because it allows surgeons to create patient-specific implants that match the unique shape of the bone. The use of 3D printing technology in orthopaedics has also led to increased precision and accuracy in surgical procedures, shorter hospital stays, and reduced costs.



In the case of forearm deformity correction, 3D printing allows orthopaedic surgeons to create custom-made plates and screws that fit perfectly onto the bone. Using 3D imaging technology, the surgeon can create a digital model of the deformity, simulate the surgical procedure, and recreate the model using 3D printing. This process eliminates the need for manual measurement, reducing the risk of human error, and increases the success rate of the surgery. 3D printing also allows for the creation of surgical tools that can be used to guide the surgeon in the placement of the implant, making the procedure faster and less invasive.


A Clinical Case Presentation


I herein present a case of a 18 year old who presented to my Hand clinic with difficulty rotating his forearm, and wrist. On undertaking a detailed consultation it was noted that the patient had a forearm fracture at the age of 12 which was treated in a plaster. X-rays performed in the out-patient clinic confirmed the bones of the forearm to have healed in an abnormal position(figure 1 and 2) resulting in the limitation of the use of the wrist and forearm. X-rays, and CT scan were discussed in the multi-disciplinary meetings attended by medical engineers, and orthopaedic surgeons who formulated a surgical plan aimed at correcting the deformity of the forearm.





X-rays taken in the operating theatre confirm well aligned forearm bones secured with custom made plates made using 3D printing(figure 3). Patient was reviewed at 3 months following surgery with a well aligned forearm bones(figure 4 and 5) achieving excellent outcome, and able to perform all activities of daily living without any discomfort.



Figure 3




Summary

The above case highlights the growing importance of 3D printing technology in orthopaedics, especially in the correction of forearm deformity. It enables orthopaedic surgeons to create custom-made implants and surgical tools, increasing precision and accuracy while reducing the risk of human error. With further advancements in 3D printing technology, the future of deformity correction seems promising, with faster recovery times, reduced costs, and better patient outcomes.



Acknowledgements


Mr Carlos Heras-Palou Consultant Hand & Wrist Surgeon Pulvertaft Hand Unit Derby UK.

KLS Martin team.

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