Medical 3D Printing For Foot Fractures

Ankle osteoarthritis is a condition that causes pain and stiffness in the ankle joint. Traditional treatments like joint fusion can limit mobility. An alternative procedure called ankle distraction arthroplasty has been gaining some traction, but how well does it hold up in the long term? 

A recent study by Greenfield et al. (2019) investigated this very question. They conducted a survival analysis of ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis. Their findings suggest that this procedure may be a viable option for some patients. 

Key takeaways from the study: 

  • Ankle distraction arthroplasty showed promising results, with an 84% survival rate at 5 years. This is better than some previously reported outcomes. 
  • The study also identified factors that can influence the success of the procedure. Avascular necrosis of the talus (bone death) was associated with a lower survival rate. Additionally, sex may play a role, with the study suggesting potential gender differences in long-term outcomes. 

What this means for patients: 

Ankle distraction arthroplasty offers a potential option for preserving joint mobility in patients with ankle osteoarthritis. This study provides valuable data for surgeons and patients to consider when making treatment decisions. 

Important to note: 

  • This was a retrospective study, meaning researchers analyzed past data. More robust research designs are needed to confirm these findings. 
  • The study involved a relatively small group of patients. Larger studies are necessary to draw more definitive conclusions. 

Overall, this research suggests that ankle distraction arthroplasty may be a valuable tool for treating ankle osteoarthritis. However, more research is needed to solidify its place as a standard treatment option. 

ReferenceGreenfield, S., Matta, K. M., McCoy, T. H., Rozbruch, S. R., & Fragomen, A. (2019). Ankle distraction arthroplasty for ankle osteoarthritis: a survival analysis. Strategies in trauma and limb reconstruction, 14(2), 65.,and%2037%25%20within%205%20years


This blog is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice. Always consult with a qualified healthcare professional to discuss your individual treatment options.

Image Credit: Penn Medicine 

“Health is a state of complete mental, social and physical well-being, not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” – World Health Organization, 1948

Article Authors: Gordon Slater| Tandose Sambo 

Excessive stresses and strains can injure the feet, and cause a foot fracture. After a physical examination, your orthopaedic specialist will be able to determine if your fracture is acute or severe. At the very least, fractures can be as tiny as small cracks in the bone, and the more severe cases can lead to a clean break of the bone. Orthopaedic treatment of the fracture will be according to the severity of the case. 

In some instances methods that restore the mechanical integrity of the joint will be implemented. Your orthopaedic surgeon may install plates, screws or rods in a scaffold frame, in order to protect the foot as it heals.  

Medical 3-D Printing for Foot Fractures 

The anatomical structure of the foot is actually quite complex. For acute cases of foot fracture, surgical procedures may often be required. Orthopaedic surgeons often face challenges with conducting surgery on the feet, based on their complexity. In some instances, revision surgeries may often have to be conducted, if the desired outcome is not as anticipated. 

To alleviate the obstacles, the surgeon can utilise technology such as 3-D printing, in order to have a clear view of the dimensions of the feet. 3-D Technology, provides a vision for the surgical pathway, and enables restoration of parts of the feet where necessary. 

Doctors have the ability to optimise their surgical processes in the manner outlined below: 

  1. With a 3-D model of the feet, the complex nature of the patient’s feet can be clearly seen. 
  2. Freedom to design the surgical pathway will be clear, and pre-surgical plans can be conducted. 
  3. Implant design can all be computer generated, and custom fit to the patients dimensions. 

The versatility of 3-D printing is emerging and doctors are now able to fabricate hydrogels, scaffolds, vascularized soft tissues and bone implants[1]. 

Customizable patient care is an area of medical engineering that enables medical practitioners, researchers and design engineers to improve patient care. Beyond the traditional applications, 3-D printing is also good for your orthopaedic health. 


  1. Science Direct
  2.  Mayo Clinic 

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Dr. Gordon Slater

Dr. Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions.

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Dr Gordon Slater is a highly-skilled surgeon specialising in foot and ankle conditions and sports injuries. Dr Slater is one of the first foot and ankle surgeons in Australia to adopt minimally invasive surgical techniques. He routinely uses MIS to treat a range of conditions, including bunions. MIS  has many advantages including shorter operating times, reduced post-operative pain, reduced risk of infection, minimal scarring and better cosmetic outcomes.

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