Ronak Shah and Sabyasachi Ghosh, of Future Market Insights, questions whether 3D printing technology holds the potential to transform the personalised manufacturing landscape of spinal organs for tumour replacement and complex deformity surgery
The disruptive capabilities of 3D printing technology, or additive manufacturing, are being leveraged in prototyping of dental implants and custom prosthetics. While this can be traced back to the 1990s, 3D printing technology continues to discover ample applicability in the medical and healthcare industries. Once an ambitious dream in the pipeline, additive manufacturing technology has come a long way, banking on several R&D ventures that have made it what 3D printing technology is today. The technologically-abreast healthcare industry is poised to leverage it to a degree that perfectly complements the ‘minimally invasive’ trend in the surgical space.
As the wave of personalisation hits the healthcare industry, medical personnel worm their way into the 3D printing technology landscape, in an effort to harvest opportunities available in enhancing the patient care journey with utmost convenience and ease. Given the complex anatomy and sensitivity of spine, it is challenging for surgeons to reconstruct deformed bones with ‘off-the-shelf’ implants, such as an artificial disc, and that’s where the biocompatibility of 3D-printed implants offers a personalised solution. 3D printing technology in spinal surgery; though in its infancy, holds enormous potential as it allows for the development of a prosthetic that could perfectly replace a fractured bone.
In recent times, surgeons are increasingly relying on 3D printing technology for intra-operative surgical guides, surgical planning, and customised prostheses to achieve stability of spine with enhanced implant properties, better patient outcomes, and reduced surgical time. Since the success of the surgery depends on the accurate planning given the complexities associated with surgeries, surgeons acquire MRI and CT scans of a patient’s spinal cord. These scans help them design 3D virtual models of the deformed/damaged bones, which are the used in the development of their ideal replica by using a 3D printer. With a 3D-printed implant, surgeons are able to successfully resect the fractured bone and attribute stability to the spine.