A guy just beat cancer with a freaking 3D-printed titanium chest implant. Take that, cancer.

What would you do if you had to choose between having cancer or having a chest?

Suppose you're 54 years old and you suddenly find out that a cancerous bone tumor known as a chest wall sarcoma has devoured your sternum and part of your ribcage.

For all of the remarkable advancements that have been made in the fight against cancer, there's not much that can be done in a case like this. By removing the infected tissue, you're pretty much left without any upper torso skeletal support.


That may have worked for one of my favorite obscure X-Men characters, but it presents some issues in the real world.

There's one other option. And even though it sounds like something out of science fiction, it actually works.

A man in Salamanca, Spain, has received the world's first 3D-printed titanium chest implant. Which is kind of like this:

A full-scale model of the T-800 from the "Terminator" movies. Photo by Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty Images.

Except actually more like this:

Photo by iStock/Anatomics. Used with permission.

With help from Anatomics, a Melbourne-based company that specializes in innovative medical devices, surgeons used a series of high-resolution CT scans of the patient's chest in an attempt to recreate his existing bone structure.

This also allowed better planning for the actual surgery; the doctors knew ahead of time exactly where the pieces would go and exactly how they'd fit, which, er, meant a lot less time spent diggin' around in the poor guy's open chest cavity (which is always good news).

The implant was then 3D-printed by an Australian company called CSIRO using a high-powered electron beam to melt down the powdered titanium into a more malleable material (so don't get too excited about the prospect of 3D-printing an army of metal skeletons on your little consumer-grade MakerBot — not yet, anyway).

Basically it goes from this:

To this:

To this:

GIF set via CSIRO.

Chest implants and 3D-printed parts separately are nothing new. But bringing them together? That's pretty cool.

In the past, reconstructive surgery for the chest wall has relied on flat metal plates and screws. It's an imperfect process that's not really known for its longevity (though it's certainly better than nothing).

But by using 3D modeling to recreate the complicated geometries of the patient's unique ribcage and sternum, this particular process turned out to be much safer and more reliable. As José Aranda, a doctor on the surgical team, explained in a press release, "Thanks to 3D printing technology and a unique resection template, we were able to create a body part that was fully customised and fitted like a glove."


A 3D-printed skeleton of Richard III, which is mostly just here to aid dramatic pacing but also sounds like something out of a crazy steampunk Shakespeare sci-fi film I haven't written yet. Photo By Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images.

And so far things are looking good — the patient was discharged 12 days after the surgery and is well on his way to recovery, shiny metal ribs and all (or at least, I'm assuming it's still shiny — you can't really see it, ya know?).

Maybe we can't stop cancer from ever happening. But it's still nice to know the future's on our side.

When we think of 3D-printed titanium bones, we're probably thinking more about some post-apocalyptic movie like "The Terminator" than we are about the actual real-world applications of this incredible technology.


Speaking of "practical applications," here are some 3D-printed dinosaur bones. Like we don't already know how that's gonna end. Thanks, "Jurassic Park." Photo by ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images.

Don't get me wrong; there are still plenty of things that we need to concern ourselves with as we move into the future. But while we're busy lamenting the lack of jetpacks and flying cars, there are people using new technology to build houses and hands and heads and even hearts (not technically functioning, but we're almost there).

So yeah, cancer's still a thing. But we've got 3D-printed, titanium-chested cyborgs on our side, so I say bring it on.

Here's a cool little video on the 3D-printed-sternum process, courtesy of CSIRO:

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Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

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This article originally appeared on 03.19.15


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