3D-Printing Innovation: 12-Year Old Cancer Patient Gets First 3D-Printed Bone Substitute

3D-Printing Innovation: 12-Year Old Cancer Patient Gets First 3D-Printed Bone Substitute

A post from Forbes.com served as a proof of one of the biggest real-world uses of 3D printing technology. The Peking University Third Hospital has successfully implanted the first 3D-printed vertebra in a 12-year old cancer patient. The boy was discovered to have a malignant tumor in his spinal cord. After hours of rigorous surgery, the doctors were able to replace the cancerous vertebra in his neck using a 3D-printed bone substitute.

3D printed vertebraLiu Zhongiun, Director of Orthopedics at Peking University, showing the 3D-printed vertebra. (Image from: forbes.com)

The 3D-printed vertebra is made from titanium powder similar to what many orthopedic implants are made of. The doctors believe that this one promises to be safer and more longer-lasting than traditional substitutes.

Since the substitute was printed as an exact copy of the shape of a child’s vertebra, it doesn’t need screws or cement to keep it in place, which leads to faster healing. Additionally, the 3D-printed vertebra is designed to have small holes that will let natural bone to grow inside, which is expected to become a stable and permanent part of the spine without needing adjustments in the future.

CCTV reported that the full results of the surgery will take time. The patient will need to wear a gear to keep his head and neck stationary for the next three months. Furthermore, it is expected to take longer than that before it is seen how well the 3D-printed vertebra holds in real-world conditions. If the results go smoothly, this can lead to other uses of 3D printing technology as substitute to other bones in the body. Potentially, it can save a life.

 

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3D-Printing Innovation: 12-Year Old Cancer Patient Gets First 3D-Printed Bone Substitute






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