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World First

A 3D printed vertebra was used to fix a boy's spine

The surgery took place in China and is the first of its kind.

SCIENTISTS IN CHINA have successfully carried out an operation to implant a 3-D printed vertebra into a young boy with bone cancer.

This is the first time that such a procedure has been performed. Vertebra are individual pieces of bone that make up the spinal column. The replacement vertebra being used was produced by a 3-D printer.

The procedure took five hours and was performed on 12-year-old Minghao. The boy discovered he had the cancer while playing football. After injuring himself trying to head the ball he was found to have the growth.

china artificial vertebra The replacement vertebra came from a 3-D printout. cctv.com cctv.com

In the operation it was the second vertebra in the boy’s neck that was replaced. The operation to insert the 3D printout lasted around five hours.

The surgery was performed by Dr. Liu Zhongjun. Speaking to Central China Television about the operation, Liu, said:

With 3D printing technology, we can simulate the shape of the vertebra, which is much stronger and more convenient than traditional methods.

Doctors are confident that Minghao will make a full recovery.

china 2 The surgery took place on the second vertebra cctv.com cctv.com

The surgery was incredibly delicate as it involved the spinal chord, the internal and external carotid arteries and the trachea.

The surgery was performed at No. 3 Hospital, Peking University.

This is more good news for those suffering from spinal cord conditions this year. In April research conducted in Kentucky looked at electrical stimulation being used to allow voluntary activity.

Read: More patients should go home on the same day as having surgery (and Leo agrees)

Also: Dublin scientist awarded €250k grant for breast cancer research

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