By: 9 November 2015
Australian surgeons print out 3D body implant for spinal operation

Australian surgeons print out 3D body implant for spinal operation

Australian surgeons have cured a patient’s chronic spinal problem with a 3D-printed titanium implant in what could be a major breakthrough in the treatment of back pain and other orthopaedic complaints.
The patient, 38-year-old Amanda Gorvin from New South Wales, said he has been “100 per cent” free of chronic back pain since the custom implant was inserted four months ago to straighten her spine.
Her neurosurgeon, Marc Coughlan, said the success of the operation – in which a small titanium implant was 3D printed so it fitted exactly into the contours of a misshapen vertebra in Gorvin’s spine – could have major implications for a wide range of surgical procedures.
“It does open up a different world,” Coughlan said. “You could use this technology for implants in the neck, in the thoracic spine, in surgery on the knee and thigh. It points the way to a time when all surgical implants might be customised to fit the individual patient.”
The operation is the first of its kind in Australia and one of the first in the world. The implant was a collaboration between medical research organisation ProCRO and Melbourne prosthetics company Anatomics, which designed the implant with the help of scientists at RMIT University where the implant was created on an electron-beam ‘printer’ that melted powdered titanium into complex shapes.
Coughlan consulted with US spinal surgeon Chet Sutterlin, who moved to Australia in 2011. While surgeons in China and France reportedly have used the technology to create spinal implants, the technique is so new that Sutterlin could not find it in peer-reviewed literature.
He said Australia could be a world leader in the technology because regulatory approval for such ‘custom’ devices is relatively quick and efficient there.
Source: The Australian