A 3D-printed vertebra has successfully been implanted in the spinal cord of a 12-year-old little boy with cancer thanks to Peking University Third Hospital in China.
This is a HUGE development in the world of 3D-printing, specifically as it relates to the medical industry.
The implant is made from titanium powder and is expected to not only last longer than traditional orthopedic implants, but also be much safer since it was designed to fit exactly like the child’s original vertebra.
Unlike most replacements that require screws or cement to stay in place, the 3D-printed vertebra features small holes that let natural bone grow inside, which should lead to an extremely stable spine for the child moving forward.
While it is encouraging that the surgery itself was successful, we will not know to the full extent how the implant hold up in real-world conditions for a long time. The boy will be required to wear devices to keep his head and neck still for the next few months before he even begins doing normal activities with the implant.
Should the 3D-printed vertebra hold up over time, this marks a major advancement for the use of 3D-printed bones in the future.