Patient has 3D-printed hip replacement in Southampton

Doctors in Southampton have used 3D printing technology to replace a patient's hip which was crushed in a car accident 37 years ago.

Meryl Richards, 71, is the first patient to undergo the procedure at Southampton General Hospital.

The bespoke hip was printed layer-by-layer following a computer-generated design taken from a CT scan.

The £12,000 joint, made from powdered titanium, is 10 times more expensive than usual replacement joints.

Stem cells to grow new bone were also taken from Mrs Richards' pelvis before the operation.

They were then cultured in a laboratory to create a larger batch to kick-start the process of cellular regeneration.

Richard Oreffo, professor of musculoskeletal science at University of Southampton, said: "The stem cells will allow new bone formation.

"They'll act like a glue to allow strong bonding between the implant and the damaged site - so it's really quite exciting."

'Just like a car'

Mrs Richards has had six hip operations since 1977 when her hip was badly broken in a traffic accident.

She said: "I don't even understand how they can print such things.

"It's absolutely fantastic. It's just like a car, you take it into the garage and have the components replaced. It seems that's the way medical science is going.

"Hopefully this will be the last time that I ever have to have anything more done."

The hospital said it was planning five more 3D hip operations.