Home Research & Education University of Limerick develops 3D Printed Breast Prostheses for Post-Mastectomy Women

University of Limerick develops 3D Printed Breast Prostheses for Post-Mastectomy Women

A unique project in Limerick is using state-of-the-art digital manufacturing to create custom breast prostheses for women who have had a mastectomy.

The pilot project is a collaboration between the Rapid Innovation Unit at the University of Limerick (UL), the Symptomatic Breast Care Unit at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) and the Mid-Western Radiation Oncology Centre at the Mater Private Network. Thanks to this collaboration, patients who have had a total mastectomy can take advantage of custom prostheses made right in the clinic.

Dr Kevin J. O’Sullivan, a senior research fellow at UL and lead on the project, said there was “significant limitations” to existing, standard breast prostheses.

“The ability to provide bespoke prostheses, regardless of shape and size, to perfectly match the residual breast is a significant improvement over the current standard of care for women who have undergone a mastectomy. There is a need for a renewed focus on quality of life and the application of user-centric design to develop innovative solutions for these patients. We have an incredibly talented PhD researcher, EmmaJude Lyons, who is funded by Breakthrough Cancer Research, who has taken this project from concept to advanced prototypes in a few short months,” he added.

Mr Chwanrow Baban, Consultant General and Oncoplastic Breast Surgeon at UHL’s Symptomatic Breast Cancer Unit, said: “This service is a gamechanger for women who have had a mastectomy and who choose not to, or who are not suitable for, breast reconstruction. Available options for prosthesis are not always the best fit for our patients and this exciting project is all about improving the quality-of-life for women post-mastectomy. The Symptomatic Breast Unit at UHL is strong on clinical innovation that improves outcomes for our patients. We are delighted to team up with our partners on this pioneering work. This is the first service of its kind in Ireland, and we are not aware of another breast service in the world that is offering this to women.”

Dr Lorraine Walsh, Consultant Radiation Oncologist, Mater Private Network Mid-Western Radiation Oncology Centre, said: “So many women are diagnosed with breast cancer here in Ireland each year and where mastectomy is often a vital route when delivering lifesaving treatment, I am keenly aware that such alterations can significantly affect women’s self-esteem post-treatment. At Mater Private Network Mid-Western Radiation Oncology Centre here in Limerick, we seek to deliver the highest quality of patient cancer care but also to enhance survivors’ quality of life after treatment. This was our north star driving our innovations for the 3D Breast Prostheses pilot scheme. We are thrilled to be able to facilitate this service in partnership with University of Limerick and University Hospital Limerick and we look forward to delivering tailored prosthesis solutions for women across Ireland.”

Orla Dolan, CEO of Breakthrough Cancer Research, added: “It is fantastic to support new ideas and emerging talent who are actively responding to the unmet needs of people with cancer. We are so excited to see this pilot project expanding to the benefit of more people right at the point of care.”

UL’s Rapid Innovation Unit, which manufactures custom devices for specific patient needs, has already gained extensive experience with the use of 3D printing at the point of care.

Dr O’Sullivan explained: “The work we are doing across the UL Hospitals Group is incredibly rewarding, we see time and time again how the ‘one size fits most’ approach is severely lacking to treat some of the most deserving patients. The application of digital manufacturing allows us to address needs that may only be specific to one individual patient, but that have a huge impact on quality of life. Solving these individual problems on the ground allows us to build the research needed to translate solutions to the wider patient population,” Dr O’Sullivan added.

Find out more about the University of Limerick at ul.ie.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

3DPResso is a weekly newsletter that links to the most exciting global stories from the 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry.

Privacy Policy*

You can find the privacy policy for the newsletter here. You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time. For further questions, you can contact us here.