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Grandad becomes first person in Wales to have his chest wall rebuilt using 3D technology

Credit: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

A granddad has become the first person in Wales to have his chest wall rebuilt with a 3D printed prosthesis following the removal of a large tumour.

Peter Maggs, from Abergavenny, had three ribs and half his breastbone removed during the day-long operation at Morriston Hospital.

The tumour had grown to around the width of a tennis ball, and the procedure left an extensive defect in the 71-year-old’s chest.

Credit: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

Surgeons say they would traditionally have reconstructed it with a special cement prosthesis. But they say advances in 3D printing technology allowed them instead to use a bespoke implant which slotted perfectly into place.

The prosthesis was designed in Morriston and printed using titanium to give a 'much stronger and more stable alternative to the traditional method' – and to reduce the surgery time by around two hours.

Peter Maggs (centre) with his surgeons. Credit: Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board

Peter Maggs developed a lump in his chest which he initially thought was a cyst but was later diagnosed as a sarcoma – a cancer of the soft tissue – in the cartilage of one of his ribs.

Cardiothoracic surgeon Mr Goldsmith said: “It was a very extensive growth that needed to be removed. However, removing it also meant removing part of the breastbone and three ribs.

“That would leave a large defect that could have destabilised the entire chest wall and reconstructing it was going to be a very complex procedure.

“Traditionally the operation would have used a cement prosthesis, prepared at the time of surgery.

“Although it can be fairly substantial it is not a precise fit, and it can move, causing problems such as dislocation.”

The entire procedure took eight hours, around two hours quicker than if a cement prosthesis had been used.