12-Year-Old Gets First 3D-Printed Vertebra Implant

Doctors performed the procedure on a boy who is suffering from spinal cord cancer.
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Doctors performed the procedure on a boy who is suffering from spinal cord cancer.
Peking University vertebra implant

Photo Credit: Peking University

Doctors from the Peking University Third Hospital in China has just performed what is perhaps one of the biggest 3D implants to date. A 12-year-old boy suffering from spinal cord cancer just received a 3D-printed vertebra implant. 

The implant was made from titanium powder like other orthopedic implants but, according to Engadget, is said to be safer and longer-lasting than others of its kind. Another major benefit is that it is shaped after the original vertebra, so it doesn't require cement to screws as reinforcements. Instead, it has holes to allow for the natural bone to grow through so that the implant eventually becomes a permanent part of the spine. This is likely to also help make the healing process a bit faster. 

The patient will have to wear gear to keep his head and neck still for three months following the surgery. However, it is believed that the process will actually take much longer before doctors are able to see how the implant holds up in the real world.