3D-printed vertebra successfully implanted for the first time

Spinal injuries are often life-changing, and the solutions are decidedly archaic, sometimes involving surgical cement and screws. The future is finally upon us, however, and with it comes the first implanted 3D printed vertebra. Using 3D printing, the vertebra is designed to match the patient’s spine.

A 12-year-old boy in China has been the first recipient of a 3D-printed vertebra, something bestowed upon him after suffering a tragic soccer accident that revealed hidden cancer. Removal of the second vertebra was necessary, and the boy, Minghao, was crippled as a result.

After a couple months of existence without the vertebra, a team from Peking University crafted a 3D-printed vertebra designed to fit his spine and implanted it in place of the removed bone. Because the design is precise, his recovery is much faster than using screws.

Titanium was used to print the implant based on a scan of the boy’s spine, and most interesting is how the printed vertebra will interact with the body in time. By printing the implant with tiny pores, the body will slowly fill them with bone, making it stronger and likely qualifying Minghao as an official cyborg.

SOURCE: Business Insider

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