Latest in Science

Image credit:

Doctors implant 3D-printed vertebrae in 'world's first' surgery

Without this procedure, the patient's cancer would have left him a quadriplegic.
10 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Sponsored Links

Ralph Mobbs, a neurosurgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, made medical history in late 2015 when he successfully replaced two vertebrae with custom made prosthesis. The patient, in his 60s, suffered from Chordoma, a particularly nasty form of cancer that had formed on his top two vertebrae and threatened to cinch off his spinal cord as it grew. That would have left him a quadriplegic. Complicating matters, those top two vertebrae are what allow you to turn and tilt your head, so it's not like doctors can easily fashion a replacement out of bone grafted from another part of the patient's body. They have to fit perfectly and that's where the 3D printers come in.

Mobbs worked with Anatomics, an Australian medical device manufacturer, to craft perfect replicas of the patient's top two vertebrae out of titanium. This is the first time that these two particular neck bones have been printed and installed. "To be able to get the printed implant that you know will fit perfectly because you've already done the operation on a model ... It was just a pure delight," Mobbs told Mashable Australia. "It was as if someone had switched on a light and said 'crikey, if this isn't the future, well then I don't know what is'."

The surgery itself was no small feat. The 15-hour procedure is fraught with peril as the medical team operates within inches of the top of the spinal cord as well as the brainstem and numerous major arteries. "The surgery that we're doing today is a particularly complicated and long and difficult surgery. It involves exposure at the top of the neck where the neck and the head meets," Mobbs told ABC 7.30. "It's essentially disattaching the patient's head from his neck and taking the tumour out and reattaching his head back onto his neck." Thankfully, the surgery was a success. Mobbs was able to remove the tumor and implant the prosthetic.

Via: Mashable
Source: ABC 7.30
In this article: medicine, science
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
10 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share
Save

Popular on Engadget

Engadget's Guide to Privacy

Engadget's Guide to Privacy

View
This week in tech history: Android turns 11

This week in tech history: Android turns 11

View
Microsoft invites more people to test very rough Xbox features

Microsoft invites more people to test very rough Xbox features

View
Fitbit is reportedly in the early stages of exploring a sale

Fitbit is reportedly in the early stages of exploring a sale

View
Tilta mods Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema Camera with a tilt screen and SSD

Tilta mods Blackmagic's Pocket Cinema Camera with a tilt screen and SSD

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr