3D Printing of Temporary Prostheses for Controlled-Release of Drugs: Design, Physical Characterization and Preliminary Studies

Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2021 Nov 29;14(12):1240. doi: 10.3390/ph14121240.


In recent years, the use of 3D printing technologies in orthopedic surgery has markedly increased, as they offer the possibility of printing personalized prostheses. The work presented in this article is a preliminary study of a research project which aims to manufacture customized spacers containing antibiotics for use in joint replacement surgery. The objective of this work was to design and print different 3D constructs to evaluate the use of different materials, their properties after the process of 3D printing, such as resistance, and the release kinetics of drugs from the constructs. Different designs and different materials were analyzed to obtain a 3D construct with suitable properties. Our design takes advantage of the micropores created between the layers of the 3D printed filaments to release the contained drug. Using polylactic acid (PLA) we were able to print cylindrical structures with interconnected micropores and a hollow chamber capable of releasing methylene blue, which was selected as a model drug. The final PLA 3D construct was printed with a 10% infill. The physical and technological characteristics, morphological changes at body temperature and interaction with water were considered to be acceptable. The PLA 3D printed constructs were found to have sufficient strength to withstand a force of 500 kg. The results obtained allow to continue research in this project, with the aim of manufacturing prostheses containing a reservoir of antibiotics or other drugs in their interior for their subsequent controlled release.

Keywords: 3D printing; FDM; PLA; controlled-release; fused deposition modelling; medical devices; personalized prosthesis; polylactic acid.