Application of a 3D printed customized implant for canine cruciate ligament treatment by tibial tuberosity advancement

Miguel Castilho, Marta Dias, Elke Vorndran, Uwe Gbureck, Paulo Fernandes, Inês Pires, Barbara Gouveia, Henrique Armes, Eduardo Pires, Jorge Rodrigues

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Fabrication of customized implants based on patient bone defect characteristics is required for successful clinical application of bone tissue engineering. Recently a new surgical procedure, tibial tuberosity advancement (TTA), has been used to treat cranial cruciate ligament (CrCL) deficient stifle joints in dogs, which involves an osteotomy and the use of substitutes to restore the bone. However, limitations in the use of non-biodegradable implants have been reported. To overcome these limitations, this study presents the development of a bioceramic customized cage to treat a large domestic dog assigned for TTA treatment. A cage was designed using a suitable topology optimization methodology in order to maximize its permeability whilst maintaining the structural integrity, and was manufactured using low temperature 3D printing and implanted in a dog. The cage material and structure was adequately characterized prior to implantation and the in vivo response was carefully monitored regarding the biological response and patient limb function. The manufacturing process resulted in a cage composed of brushite, monetite and tricalcium phosphate, and a highly permeable porous morphology. An overall porosity of 59.2% was achieved by the combination of a microporosity of approximately 40% and a designed interconnected macropore network with pore sizes of 845 μm. The mechanical properties were in the range of the trabecular bone although limitations in the cage's reliability and capacity to absorb energy were identified. The dog's limb function was completely restored without patient lameness or any adverse complications and also the local biocompatibility and osteoconductivity were improved. Based on these observations it was possible to conclude that the successful design, fabrication and application of a customized cage for a dog CrCL treatment using a modified TTA technique is a promising method for the future fabrication of patient-specific bone implants, although clinical trials are required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number025005
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014


  • 3D printing
  • calcium phosphates
  • customized bone grafts
  • mechanical properties
  • tibial tuberosity advancement

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