Australian surgeons developed the world’s first 3D-printed spinal implant in 2015. The implant was created using a 3D printer and made from titanium, a biocompatible material commonly used in medical implants. The patient who received the implant suffered from a rare form of cancer that had spread to his vertebrae, causing them to collapse. Traditional spinal implants were unsuitable for the patient due to the complex nature of his condition, so the team turned to 3D printing to create a customized solution.
Using the patient’s CT scans, the team created a 3D model of the patient’s spine to design the implant. The implant was then 3D printed using a selective laser melting process, which involves melting layers of titanium powder using a high-powered laser to create a solid, three-dimensional object. The implant was successfully implanted in the patient’s spine, providing stability and support where his vertebrae had collapsed. The patient made a full recovery and was able to resume normal activities. The success of this pioneering surgery paved the way for further research and development of 3D-printed spinal implants, offering new hope for patients with complex spinal conditions.
According to Dr. Liu Zhongjun, ” The titanium mesh tube can only be this long, far shorter than 19 centimeters. 3D printing comes to our assistance to produce implants of whatever size and shape”. He is the chief orthopedics surgeon.