A lot of remarkable applications of 3D printing are discovered each day, and one of the latest innovations were used by Chinese surgeons to conduct a delicate spinal surgery. Doctors from the Orthopaedic Hospital in Zhengzhou China treated a 28-year old patient suffering from a condition called atlantoaxial dislocation which causes the nerves near the end of her spinal cord to compress which leads to the inability of movement and lack of feeling on her extremities.
As the spinal cord is considered as the most delicate areas to operate on, a small mistake made by the surgeons could be catastrophic towards the patient. The patient can become quadriplegic (inability to move both hands and legs) or the patient may succumb to death in the middle of the operation.
However, the doctors ensured that the patient is in great hands by practicing first on a spinal model of the patient’s actual spine. Using the images obtained from the X-ray and CT scan data, the surgeons were able to print an accurate 3D model of the patient’s spine. This allowed the surgeons to practice on freeing the soft tissue from the affected area, reset the dislocation and also screw everything back without damaging the patient’s spinal cord.
Doctors were successful in conducting the surgery and the patient is reported to be recovering with significant improvement a few months after the operation. Thanks to 3D printing, surgeons are now able to perform difficult surgical procedures without putting their patient’s lives at risk. Hopefully, 3D printing will be used to create surgical models to treat diseases that are difficult to operate on.