Heathcareis one industry that keeps reminding us about the powers of 3d printing, thanks to it we are seeing a complete change in the way doctor’s approach medical care of individual patients. Until now the doctors were dependent of the pre-designed and pre-manufactured manufactured tools and implants to cure patients, there was no solution available for patients who needed personalized cure. Which left a huge gap in the demand and supply chain but with 3D printing we are seeing a definite change and improvement in the way healthcare is being provided to the patients with specific needs. The operation done on a 77-yearold cancer patient, Mr.Josip Lopac from Croatia is a nice example to this.
Mr. Josip Lopachad a malignant tumor that had evolved into a metastatic cancer on his seventh vertebrae; the doctors declared his condition as terminal and gave him a few weeks to live. There was little the doctors could do for the patient and this called for drastic measures. Dr. DinkoStimac, the newly elected Head of the Neurosurgical Department at the University of Rijeka decided to conduct a breaktrough operation on the patient and surgically replace the affected vertebrae with the world’s first fully 3D printed acrylic vertebrae.
Dr. DinkoStimactold us that “We view this [procedure] as a major advantage [in our fight with cancer]. The key advantage is that you can build a custom part for the patient, instead of using pre-designed and pre-manufactured designs which might not fit the patient.”
This 3D printed vertebraewas not just 10 times cheaper than the predesigned titanium implants; it is also helping reduce the recovery time of the patient. Dr. DinkoStimac explained that to make these printed vertebrae, the doctors had to first get the precise digital 3D model of the infected vertebrae which was then 3D printed with the help of Faculty of Mechanical Engineering and Naval Architecture (FSB), an institution of the University of Zagreb, whose software helped process digital data obtained by a CT scan of the spine.
Dr. DinkoStimac further added that “With any radiation, you need to remove the titanium plate and screws after six weeks, while this acrylic-based implant doesn’t create any noise or artifacts. We are not aware that any medical team used this approach and technology to replace a vertebrae.”
Mr. Josip Lopac, on whom the surgery was performed, is all fit and fine and his next surgery to replace his fifth vertebrae is already scheduled. He sounded delighted when he said “I am joyful and happy because I suffered pain and could not be admitted, and now, thank God, there is no pain,”
The success of the surgerywith the world’s first fully 3D printed acrylic vertebrae would certainly bring a ray of hope to poor cancer patients across the globe who cannot afford the high cost of Titanium implants.