Artificial bone made using a 3D printer

(ED NOTE: The water cooler crowd has never been this big!  It seems that the employees will continue to get paychecks, and there is talk extending the lunch break to 30 minutes!  Great news in medicine, a forebearer of even better things to come, changes will accelerate logarithmically, hope I spelled that right!)


Aug.13, 2013

Bones are rigid organs that serve various functions in the human body. Damaged bone can be replaced with bone from other parts of the body (autografts), from cadavers (allograft), or with various ceramics or metallic alloys. The use of autografts limits how much bone is available, while the other options can result in rejection by the human body.

According to Japanese media, Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine announced that it can now create artificial bones using 3D printing technology and has transplanted the bones into four patients with cervical spine (cervical) disc herniation. After the transplants, their symptoms such as gait disturbance and hand numbness were improved.

Based on images of MRI and CT scan of patient’s neck, researchers sent the design file to a 3D printer. Composed by thin layers of titanium powder the 3D printed bone fit perfectly to the cervical spine. After an extra chemical and heat treatment the 3D printed bone was transplanted into the patient’s neck.

This transplant surgery is Kyoto University’s surgical clinical trials. The cost of making such artificial bones is only several thousand yen (1000 yen = 10 US dollars).

The team has also printed part of a skull, femur and spine. According to the researchers, the 3D printed artificial bones can be used for the patients with bone tumor who underwent surgical resection. It is believed that this technique is particularly advantageous for printing replication of bones with complex 3D shape such as pelvis.


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