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Medicine China Technology Build

Doctors Replace Patient's Thoracic Vertebrae With 3D-Printed Replica 55

ErnieKey (3766427) writes Earlier this month, surgeons at Zhejiang University in China performed a surgery to remove two damaged vertebrae from a 21-year-old patient. In their place they inserted a 3D printed titanium implant which was shaped to the exact size needed for the patient's body. The surgery, which took doctors much less time and provided significantly less risk [than conventional surgery] was completely successful and the patient is expected to make a full recovery. This is said to be the first ever surgery involving 3D printing vertebrae in order to replace a patient's thoracic vertebrae.
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Doctors Replace Patient's Thoracic Vertebrae With 3D-Printed Replica

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  • Source? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 13, 2014 @02:28AM (#48587973)

    Source? References? Further information?
    What caused the damage? What is the "conventional surgery"?
    When did this happen?

    • by spineboy ( 22918 ) on Saturday December 13, 2014 @03:37AM (#48588109) Journal

      I'm an orthopaedic surgeon, and I doubt it's anything more than just a typical spacer that is commonly used.

      OK found the article, and I'm corect. []

      The title is misleading - it's just a 3D printed version of spacers that are commonly used - it really doesn't look, nor function any differently than the ones currently being used. The patient had a non-ossifying fibroma - rare in the spine, but benign, and will turn into regular bone eventually. This could have been treated with some bone graft and a plate and screws, which is basically what they did.

      Nothing really new here.

      • by mlheur ( 212082 )

        Thank you very much for the reference and insight.

        I was quite curious how they could gotten the spinal cord into an artificial vertebra. I guess they could make it in two pieces and then combine the two pieces in place (screws?). I'm guessing that severing and reattaching the spinal cord itself isn't very feasible.


        and now we bring you the rest of the internet.

  • Direct Metal Laser Sintering. I had no idea you could do that with titanium! Pretty damn cool.

    • Other than mercury, what metal could conceivably have any kind of thing preventing it from being melted by a laser attaching to itself when it freezes again?

      • Bromine.

        For other reasons, none of the metals with a halflife of below a second would be advisable. Especially not for objects as large as this.

        If you want to get technical both mercury and bromine would work fine, assuming your 3d printer is in a freezer.

        Not that I would want an implant made of any of those metals.

  • Source article [] Most of his submissions from there. Just sayin'.
  • Please could someone explain to me how you put the vertebra around the spinal cord once the vertebra has been "printed" ? I think you can't cut the spinal cord, so how do you do this ?

  • Citations needed, as they say.

    Also, 3-D printed titanium? Have we skipped ahead a century or so?

    • Also, 3-D printed titanium? Have we skipped ahead a century or so?

      No. If you have a cool million or so to drop on a 3 printer, you can print with a variety of metals in very high precision, including titanium and hardened steel.

      For example, here is a 3D printed gun: []

      You can print all sorts of stuff.

    • Titanium printing has been around for years (someone above even claims a couple of decades) - we're talking the high-end laser sintering machines and related technology, not the johnny-come-lately cheap plastic extrusion crap. Those are essentially just toy versions of a concept pioneered much earlier.

      Among the things that can now be 3D printed:
      Various resins - I think these were actually the first to the party, and they've gotten rather advanced in a variety of different configurations.
      High tempera

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