By: 3 March 2015

Medicrea has announced that a surgeon in Lyon, France, has performed the world’s first spinal fusion surgery using customised spine cages created with a 3D printer.
Medicrea has developed the UNiD service to bring customisation to spinal fusion surgery for the first time. Spinal fusion surgery is performed to correct severe spinal deformities. Damaged discs are replaced with spinal cages to separate the vertebrae and align the spine properly, while a curved spinal rod is screwed into place to maintain that alignment. With the support of specific software and advanced imaging, the UNiD ALIF customised cages made of Poly Ether Ketone Ketone (PEKK) exactly reproduce the anatomic details of a patient’s vertebral plates.

The first operation using Medicrea’s UNiD ALIF device was performed in May by Vincent Fiere MD at the Hospital Jean Mermoz in Lyon, France, a centre specialising in the diagnosis of severe spinal deformities and their surgical treatment. The UNiD ALIF extends Medicrea’s UNiD platform, following the launch of the UNiD pre-curved osteosynthesis rod service in Europe earlier this year.
“The intersomatic cage, specifically ‘printed’ by Medicrea for my patient, positioned itself automatically in the natural space between the vertebrae and moulded ideally with the spine by joining intimately with the end plates, despite their relative asymmetry and irregularity,” said Dr Fiere. “I could also very precisely perform the restoration of the disc height and simultaneously correct the degree of lumbar lordosis using plans I had made several days before the operation with the help of Medicrea’s Surgimap software tool.”

The UNiD ALIF intersomatic anatomical inter-body device was developed by Medicrea from a 3D digital file created from the extraction and treatment of pre-operatory scanner images of the patient, a process developed internally by Medicrea’s R&D teams. The company’s design, recording and production methods open the door to the future development of implantable devices that can identically reproduce the elements of the spine that need to be reinforced or replaced by artificial components printed in 3D on implantable polymers or titanium.

This process and the multiple applications that directly result from it to create bone implants from 3D printing are patent-pending.
“Continuing our trajectory since the launch of our PASS LP UNiD rods which are made to measure for each patient, Medicrea confirms its position as the pioneer of intelligent spinal implants, perfectly adapted to the morphology of each patient’s spinal column and developed in a rational and planned manner to restore the fundamental mechanical equilibrium of the human body,” said Denys Sournac, president and CEO of Medicrea.
“By providing pre-planned customisation, our goal is to improve patient outcomes and allow our surgeons’ customers to complete their plans in advance and solely focus on executing their strategy in the OR.”