Studley man has custom built sternum and ribs implanted in rare operation - The Stratford Observer
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20th Aug, 2022

Studley man has custom built sternum and ribs implanted in rare operation

A MAN from Studley is the first person in the country to have a custom built sternum and ribs implanted.

Edward Evans featured on BBC’s ‘Trust Me, I’m a Doctor’ which followed the operation to replace the bones in his chest which were removed following a rare bone infection diagnosed six years ago.

The 60 year-old is the first patient in the UK to receive this type of implant and only the second in the world.

Edward is a keen sportsman and former rugby coach and felt vulnerable with just a thin layer of muscle protecting his heart and lungs after his sternum and rib cage were removed.

The usual technique for protecting these organs and restoring chest wall movement is to replace bones with an implant made of cement.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Ehab Bishay from Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust had read of the world’s first 3D implant by a team of surgeons at University Hospital Salamanca in Spain.

They had collaborated with Australia-based medical device company Anatomics creating a custom built titanium implant which replicated the structure of a sternum and rib cage in a cancer patient which was then implanted.

Mr Bishay said: “Although cement is tried and tested we believe that custom built 3D printed titanium implants may have certain advantages which we are looking to show.

“Titanium is more resistant to infection, lightweight, tough, and since it exactly replicates the defect, it means that the operative time is reduced as it slots in. It should also offer a better cosmetic result.

“We were very keen to reduce any chances of infection to Edward’s implant. As well the integral work carried out we made a number of refinements to the original implant used by the group in Spain.

“They had used a synthetic mesh behind the implant in the first operation, to reduce the chance of the lungs herniating between the titanium rods that replicated the ribs.

“Unfortunately that mesh became infected and they had to remove it during a second operation. Instead we asked Anatomics to coat these rods with porous polyethylene to add bulk so we did not have to use a mesh.

“This seemed to have worked with no signs of infection in Edward’s implant.”

Edward spent five days in hospital and now nearly five months after his surgery, has made a full recovery.

And he is very happy with the results.

“I feel more confident now – my chest now feels like it did before.

“Whatever I do now I feel better doing it. I can even fall over, knowing that my heart and lungs are protected, and that’s something I couldn’t do before.

“I am very grateful to Mr Bishay for giving me the opportunity to take advantage of this new implant technology and thank him, Mr Khalil and the rest of the medical team involved for the excellent treatment I received at Heartlands Hospital before, during and after surgery.”

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