Spinal implant 3D printing: 5 findings from 2 key cases

Spinal Tech

A new study published in the Journal of Neurosurgery: Spine examines the application of 3D printing in surgical planning and implant design for complex spine surgery.

The study authors examined two cases where surgeons used 3D printing for the surgical plan as a preoperative mold and then custom-designed a titanium prosthesis. The first patient had a C-1/C-2 chordoma and the second patient underwent anterior fusion for congenital spinal deformity.


Here are five observations:


1. The custom-designed and built implants fit easily into position and facilitate surgery.


2. The procedure times were shorter than surgery with the traditional implant, and avoided further complex reconstruction including harvesting rib or fibular grafts and fashioning those grafts to fit the defect.


3. The patients both underwent radiological follow-up and had successful fusion; the first patient reported fusion after nine months and the second after 12 months.


4. The study authors concluded the cases demonstrated "the feasibility of the use of 3D modeling and printing to develop personalized prostheses."


5. Future research could focus on combining 3D printed implants with biologics or developing bioceramic composites and custom implants for load-bearing purposes, according to the study authors.


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