A Beijing university hospital has successfully implanted a 3D printed vertebra in a 12-year-old boy, claiming the effort as a world first.
CCTV reports that Peking University’s No. 3 Hospital performed surgery on the boy’s spinal cord, carotid arteries and trachea due to a cancerous growth, replacing the boy’s second vertebra with an additively manufactured titanium structure.
Forbes reports that the implant included special tiny pores to assist the bone to grow into the implant.
Existing methods would mean pins holding the patient’s head up while he was resting to assist healing.
“This lasts for at least three months,” the hospital’s orthopaedics director Liu Zhongjun told CCTV.
“But with 3D printing technology, we can simulate the shape of the vertebra, which is much stronger and more convenient than traditional methods."
The procedure took place over five hours, and Liu said it was the first such operation in the world.
International Business Times reports that the Peking University hospital had also made 3D printed implants last year to treat the degerative condition cervical spondylosis.