Healthcare Innovation

A giant leap for knee health 3D-printed Knee Cartilage manufactured in Space.

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Spine surgery 3D-Printed solution for Spinal deformities.

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The patient, Edurne Heredia, had struggled with excruciating pain caused by a severe curvature in her lower spine for decades. Despite trying various treatments, from physical therapy to nerve blocks, her condition persisted. The pandemic made traveling for specialized treatment impossible, but fate led her to Dr. Singh, who diagnosed her with hemivertebrae in early 2022. Traditional treatment options involved extensive invasive procedures, but Edurne Heredia became a candidate for a revolutionary approach. She received four asymmetric implants, meticulously designed to match her spinal contours. These custom implants offered a more natural correction of her deformity, mimicking the microarchitecture of bone, facilitating bone growth, and ensuring fusion stability.

The procedure itself closely resembled a standard lumbar fusion, but with a remarkable difference—customization. Dr. Singh collaborated with California-based Carlsmed to design implants based on the patient’s unique requirements and anatomical images. By creating a 3D model of the spinal deformity, the surgical team could visualize the correction needed and design patient-specific implants accordingly. This level of customization not only enhances the precision of the procedure but also empowers patients. They can review the 3D model with their surgeon, gaining a clear understanding of the surgical plan and expected outcomes.

Carlsmed’s 3D-printed titanium devices, known as “aprevo,” have earned the “Breakthrough Device” designation from the FDA, signifying their transformative potential in healthcare. For Edurne Heredia, this innovative approach to spine surgery has marked a turning point. While her journey to recovery is ongoing, she has already experienced significant pain reduction and improved physical alignment. Her story exemplifies how cutting-edge technology and personalized care can revolutionize healthcare, offering renewed hope to those living with spinal deformities.

Christopher DeFrancesco ’95 (CLAS). UConn Health/September 7, 2023. This blog post contains information from a real patient’s experience at UConn Health’s Comprehensive Spine Center and the innovative work of Dr. Hardeep Singh, as reported by the Hartford Business Journal. A 3D-Printed Solution for the Spine.