The current generation of implants unfortunately have a limited lifespan, which means they often need to replaced once or even two times during the life of a patient. These so called revision surgeries are complicated procedures and will result in large bone defects. The standard treatment to repair these bone defects typically uses the patient’s own bone or synthetic filler materials in combination with medical implants. Due to the complex nature of these procedures, they require long surgery times, resulting in a large risk of infection either shortly after surgery or on the longer term. Treatment of these infections is a difficult process, associated with lengthy hospitalization and high associated healthcare costs. There is a clear need for a new generation of smart medical implants. Ideally these implants need to accelerate the healing process and prevent infection.
Chris Arts, Prosperos’ principal investigator: ‘Thanks to this unique project we’ll eventually be able to custom print our bone implants for every individual patient. Within 3 to 4 years, we’ll be able to make a scan of your joint and 3D print a perfectly fitting implant, which we are able to implant successfully with great ease. Special coatings, which are also developed in the project, will enable the implants to combat infections, prevent inflammation and stimulate the formation of new bone. Because 3D printing allows implants with porous structures, new bone can grow in easily. Not only does this allow patients to recover much faster, they will also enjoy their implants for a much longer time. In contrast to the current implant which have an average lifespan of 15 years, these smart implants have an expected lifespan of almost double that!’