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World’s first ‘4D’-printed breast constructed by Chinese hospital

Updated: Jun 7,2017 12:55 PM

A Chinese hospital announced on June 6 that doctors have recreated a breast for a cancer patient using “4D” printing.

The surgery was performed on August 8, 2016, and the printed breast has grown well with the patient’s own tissue, said Ling Rui, a vascular surgery doctor with Xijing Hospital of the Fourth Military Medical University in Xi’an, Shaanxi province.

The patient underwent a mastectomy for her left breast last year, before having the surgery.

“Compared with three-dimensional printing, 4D printing adds time as another dimension,” said Ling.

Doctors collected data on the size of her tumor and original breast, and reconstructed a biodegradable breast.

The implant was developed by the hospital with a national lab of Xi’an Jiaotong University.

“It is sufficiently strong, and will degrade in designed period of time, which is in the patient’s case one to two years,” said Zhang Juliang, an assistant professor in Xijing Hospital who participated in the surgery.

Its porous nature allows human tissue to grow into the implant and ultimately replace it, Zhang said.

“In the 10 months since the surgery, the implant has grown well, and the patient’s veins and tissue have started to grow back,” Ling said.

Compared to existing methods of breast reconstruction, the method has fewer side effects, Ling said.