3D-printed Vertebrae Used in World’s First Surgery Increases Hopes from 3D-printing in Medicine

Published Date : Feb 22, 2016

Technological advances in the field of 3-dimenisonal printing have started benefitting several industries and several applications are being continuously being found that can be simplified by integrating 3-dimensional printing methodologies in conventional operations.

One of the most interesting applications of 3-dimensional printing are said to be found in the healthcare industry wherein fields like dental care, for instance, are witnessing the benefits of high precision and usage of a number of materials for the manufacture of dental prosthetics. Several other fields in the healthcare industry are also seeing the enormous opportunities that the field of 3-dimensional printing has to offer. Researchers and medical practitioners are increasingly experimenting with specialty areas such as orthopedic implants. Examples of successful surgeries that have used 3D-printed implants are leveraging consumer expectations from the field of 3-D printing. Researchers, medical practitioners, device manufacturers, and consumers alike are becoming increasingly curious about 3D printing practices, and the field is here to stay.

A recent study has demonstrated how 3D printing can be used to treat deadly diseases like cancer as well. In the first of its kind, an Australian neurosurgeon has completed a surgery where he removed cancer-infected vertebrae and replaced it with body parts that were 3-D printed.

The surgery was actually conducted in a 15-hour long operation in December by Dr Ralph Mobbs on Drage Josevski.

Owing to the novelty of the operation and the implant being used, it was not known at the time of the surgery if the patient would survive the procedure.

The particularly complicated, long and difficult surgery involved exposure at the part where the neck and the head meet. The surgery was essentially of a kind that would resemble a case where a person’s head is detached from the neck to take out the tumor and reattaching it back to the neck.
Recent updates about the health of the patient have revealed that the surgery has been successful and that the patient is expected to recover within six months, though an unexpected complication in the form of difficulty in speaking and trouble has occurred.

The success of the surgery have upped the hopes regarding the successful use of 3-D printed body parts and their use in replacing bones and organs. At the rate technology is advancing, this can be possible in the near future also.