World’s first 3D printed vertebra implanted in 12-year-old boy with bone cancer
Sensing limitations of traditionally used orthopedic implants that need to be typically attached to the bone with cement and screws; surgeons at the Perking University in Beijing, China, have successfully implanted first 3D printed vertebra in a 12-year-old boy’s neck. The patient named Minghao, had developed cancer in the vertebra. In the five-hour long specialized spinal cord operation, surgeons removed the tumor located in the second vertebra in the neck and replaced the same with a 3D printed implant.
The modern implant, made from titanium powder, is completely flexible and is printed in the exact shape of the vertebra. The implant promises to be more durable and safer than traditional implants and can hang in place without the need of any cement or screws. The 3D printed vertebra designed for the little patient has tiny pores, which let the bone grow naturally inside it, so that the implant can become a stable part of the kid’s spine and no additional adjustments are required over time.
For the next three odd months, Minghao will have to wear a special gear to keep the head and neck stable. Real results of the 3D printed vertebra implant will be visible only after that. If all goes well, as doctors expect, it will go on to prove that 3D printing can deliver implants in all shapes, which will be implanted without the need of screws and cement.