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Remarkable recovery two years on from world first 3D bone implant at PA Hospital

18 October 2019

Two years on from a world-first surgery, Reuben Lichter (29) is still defying the odds, able to walk again after the implantation of a 3D-printed tibia bone.

Reuben received a diagnosis in 2017 that would have usually resulted in an above-knee amputation had it not been for PA Hospital Surgeon, Dr Michael Wagels.

Following a long recovery, Reuben is now living life to the full, finally able to walk again.

Little did he know, Reuben has become the cornerstone for the Australian Centre for Complex Integrated Surgical Solutions bringing what was once impossible, closer to reality.

Deputy Director of Plastics and Reconstructive Surgery, Dr Michael Wagels said Reuben’s recovery is a huge win for his ongoing independence but also the value of advancing clinical trials.

“When I met Reuben in 2017 during treatment for the infection which destroyed his tibia bone, he said he was happy to undergo the unique and experimental procedure of implanting a 3D printed bone if it meant that surgeons may not have to amputate his leg.

“Reuben’s case is such a wonderful success highlighting clinical innovation with 3D printing technology and look at him now.  He’s a walking success story,” Dr Wagels said.

Motivated by the chance to improve Reuben’s quality of life, orthopaedic and plastic surgeons spent 14 hours reconstructing Reuben’s tibia with a 3D printed model. 

This surgery involved removing tissue from the bone of his other leg with the blood supply intact in order to transform the 3D implant into living bone.

“The results of the operation at the time were very promising so it is a tremendous win for all of us, especially Reuben, to see him walking with independence two-years on."

Princess Alexandra Hospital in partnership with the Translational Research Institute will launch the Australian Centre for Complex Integrated Surgical Solutions under the leadership of Dr Wagels today.

Last updated 18 October 2019
Last reviewed 18 October 2019

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