Production of a three dimensional (3-D) object by the means of depositing or fusing plastics, ceramics, living cells or other materials constitutes the technique of 3-D printing. To begin with its applications in medicine, 3-D printing poses several advantages of customization, cost efficiency, and high productivity. Hence, it finds uses in bioprinting of tissues and organs, custom implants, anatomical models, vascular organs and others.
Fabrication of spinal implants using 3D technology has proven to be revolutionary. It allows the surgeons to overcome additional complexities of graft accommodation involving size or shape modifications using scalpels or drills. The 3-D printed spinal implants, printed to custom requirements, poses the benefit of an easy fit. This technique proves to be beneficial for congenital deformities, spinal degeneration, or destruction due to a tumor. Additionally, these implants do not pose any durability or biocompatibility issues. They are printed using the same materials as off the shelf implants. In 2014, surgeons in Beijing performed the first ever bone replacement surgery following removal of a tumor using a 3D printed implant. The surgery helped a 12-year boy reclaim a healthy life. Another highly significant application comes from India, in 2017.
A woman suffering from tuberculosis for a long time developed high deterioration of first, second, and third cervical vertebrae. The condition was progressively causing forward sliding of head and curving of posture. The surgeons replaced the damaged vertebrae, with the 3D printed titanium implants. The advent of 3-D plants helped the patient regain her posture, speaking abilities, and ability to walk.