3D Printing in China Allows Man to Regain Use of His Legs


(image source cedars-sinai.edu)

We have seen many tremendous breakthroughs within the medical field recently, thanks in a large part to 3D printing technology. There are tremendous benefits of using this up-and-coming means of production to aid in more advanced surgeries, that previously may not have been possible.

For one 40-year-old Chinese man, named Yang Xue-bin, 3D printing literally gave him his legs and his life back, after being diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis, a debilitating medical condition that quickly unleashed its wrath on Xue-bin, leaving him unable to walk in just a matter of days.

For those unfamiliar with the condition, cervical spinal stenosis is the abnormal narrowing of the spinal canal, which causes restriction of the canal, and ultimately results in numbness, pain, and in many cases, loss of motor control. For Yang Xue-bin, the symptoms came on quickly and hit extremely hard. He had no idea that he was suffering from this condition until September 23, when he began noticing that his legs were going numb. Then he realized that he was having a very difficult time walking, before ultimately needing a wheelchair to get around. This all happened in a matter of weeks, as Xue-bin was quickly diagnosed with cervical spinal stenosis.


“I feel that my life was going to be end up with me sitting in the wheelchair,” explained Xue-bin, in talking about how he felt prior to the surgery.

The blood flow in Xue-bin’s spinal cord was greatly disrupted, and the root of the nerves were being severely compressed. “Due to the compression of the nerves, he suffered the symptoms [of] not being able to move his legs,” explained Liu Hao, the deputy director of the Department of Orthopedics at West China Hospital of Sichuan University. “Cervical posterior single open-door laminoplasty is the classical operation method for the treatment of cervical spinal canal stenosis. The key to successfully conducting the operation is about accurately determining the slot position for the lamina. Luckily, thanks for the 3D printed guide, the operation turned out efficient and successful.”


(image source umm.edu)

This is the first time that we are aware of a case in which 3D printing technology has been used for the treatment of cervical spinal stenosis. In Xue-bin’s surgery, surgeons had to use various drilling and grinding tools to operate on the cervical vertebra lamina area, and cut two slots.  Before the surgery, they needed to determine the exact slot position that would be cut in the lamina. If they did not do this correctly it could have led to permanent damage to Xue-bin’s spinal cord.

To make sure the surgeons were completely prepared for this complicated procedure, the team 3D printed surgical guides using a CT scanner to reconstruct a model of Xue-bin’s spine. This data was then converted into 3D printable files, and a 3D printed guide plate was created. This plate was placed in the surgical area during the operation, and allowed surgeons to accurately and precisely place slots in the lamina, using holes already on the 3D printed guide plate.

“In the past, this kind of operation required doctors with more than 10 years of surgery experience in the department of orthopedics,” Liu Hao explained. “With 3D printing technology to assist the work, doctors with 3 to 5 years of experience can perform the operation successfully.”


We are happy to say that Xue-bin’s surgery was successful and he has checked out of the hospital and is doing fine. It if weren’t for 3D printing, his surgery may not have gone so well. What do you think about this use of 3D printing in this spine surgery performed in China? Discuss in the Cervical Spinal Stenosis forum thread on 3DPB.com

[Special thanks to Kitty Wang]

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3D Printing Allows for Unprecedented Accuracy in Facial Reconstructive Surgery – 3D Printer


3D printing technology has helped to reconstruct the facial injuries that a 29-year-old motorcycle accident victim sustained.

Stephen Power, from Cardiff, Wales, is possibly the first trauma patient to have 3D printing used at every stage during surgery, in which a reconstructive procedure was used to restore facial features.

In a motorcycle accident in 2012, Power suffered severe injuries that included breaking both of his arms, his right leg, as well as severe eye socket, cheek, and upper jaw injuries.

The accident left him in the hospital for four months.

“I can’t remember the accident – I remember five minutes before and then waking up in the hospital a few months later,” Power said.

Thanks to 3D printing technology, though, Power was able to undergo an eight-hour operation that allowed doctors to rebuild his face.

The surgical team used scanned 3D images of his face to design guides to cut and position bones, as well as titanium implants. 3D printing allowed for unprecedented accuracy in the surgery.

“It was a three dimensional exercise,” said consultant maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar. “We had virtual and physical model planning for each stage of the operation. It made sense to plan it in three dimensions and that is why 3D printing came in – and successive 3D printing, as at every different stage we had a model.”

“Without this technology, you have to guess where everything goes. With 3D printing, we are far more precise.”

Power’s new face is a testament to the amazing things that 3D printing technology is capable of when combined with modern medical technology.

“I won’t have to hide my face away and my confidence will be back,” said Power. “I’ll be able to do everyday things – go and see people, walk in the streets, just go to any public areas.”


3D Printing Allows for Unprecedented Accuracy in Facial Reconstructive Surgery
by Travis Starnes

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Science | 3D-Printed hip replacement allows teenager to walk again | Leeds Student Newspaper

 LS Web Editor

Science | 3D-Printed hip replacement allows teenager to walk again

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Joint replacements are currently some of the most common orthopaedic operations performed in the UK (generally as a result of an ageing population) with the vast majority of replacement parts being of a stock size and shape. People don’t really come in a stock shape, so we can see deterioration and ineffective results when surgeons attempt to address difficult or particularly unique cases.

One such case was that of a Swedish 15 year old with the congenital disease neurofibromatosis. This results in multiple benign tumours occurring in many tissues and often affects bone growth. A neurofibroma in her pelvis caused severe deformation of her left hip, resulting in a loss of structurally sound bone and the function of that joint, leaving her wheelchair bound.

Doctors saw no real treatment options, as her unique bone structure would not support a traditional replacement. Based on images produced via a computed tomography (CT) scan, Belgian company
Mobelife designed and built a bespoke hip replacement using additive 3D printing, more specifically, 3D Selective Laser Sintering.

This technology uses a laser, focused at different depths in a bed of metallurgic powder, the laser causes the powder to melt and bind. This can be used to build highly specific and complex structures in layers. The powder can then be blown away, leaving behind your desired structure as one solid piece. Materials such as titanium and steel and many more can be manipulated using this technique.

The implant was created as a one-off and is entirely unique to the shape of the patient’s hip, making use of areas of greater structural rigidity and ensuring a perfect fit.

As a result of the creation and implantation, the teenager is now able to leave her wheelchair behind and take a walk, unassisted as well as start to re-attend school, something that would not have been possible otherwise.

As 3D printing becomes more popular in it seems, all aspects of life, the applications of this kind of technology are somewhat mind-boggling, and could usher in a new era of personalised medicine.

Another experimental use of 3D printing is that of skin; directly printing skin cells onto severe burns or patients with severe skin damage. This technology involves scanning, and printing new skin cells directly onto the patient simultaneously, a very Elysium-esque technology which is surprisingly close to being within our grasp.

As engineering, medical, design, chemical and many other research fields meld into more multi-disciplinary teams, the potential for further innovation and progression are huge.

Oli Purnell