Surgeons at a hospital in Shanghai, China, have completed what is claimed to be the world’s first cervical vertebrae replacement operation with additively manufactured titanium bones, reports the People’s Daily Online.
The 28-year-old patient was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a rare type of bone cancer that attacks cartilage, in May 2017. A tumour was found on her neck, encroaching on six of the seven bones of the cervical vertebra. As the cancer is prone to relapse and chemotherapy is less effective, doctors at Shanghai Changzheng Hospital decided to remove all six bones and replace them with additively manufactured alternatives.
The team, led by specialist spinal surgeon Xiao Jianru, are said to have spent three weeks building the artificial bones. They chose titanium alloy and used Additive Manufacturing technology to customise them for the patient.
Shanghai Changzheng Hospital is the largest centre for spinal tumour treatment in China. Over 1,000 operations are conducted every year at the hospital. Following two operations, lasting a total of 13 hours, the patient is said to be recovering slowly. She is now able to walk, but still has difficulty turning her head normally.