The struggle for cancer patients’ lives is still a vital task of contemporary medicine. Ralph Mobbs, a neurosurgeon at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney, has won a first victory over chordoma, a grave form of cancer. He performed the first operation of implanting 3D vertebrae at the hard-to-get-to location where usual methods of surgery weren’t effective.
Mobbs describes the peculiarity of disease like this: “At the top of the neck, there are two highly-specialised vertebrae that are involved in the flexion and rotation of the head. This tumour had occupied those two vertebrae.” The patient was left for terrible death if the definite urgent actions wouldn’t be done.
Before 3D era printing as to replace cancered vertebrae doctors had to take bones from another part of the body. It is difficult to select a bone of the necessary shape and it surely increased risks. With 3D printing the problem of fitting was resolved. Moreover Mobbs could train the operation with a model that simplified the operation process and increased chances at a successful result. “To be able to get the printed implant that you know will fit perfectly because you’ve already done the operation on a model … It was just a pure delight,” he said.
3D vertebrae were printed by an Australian medical device Company called Anatomics and it is specialized on a manufacturing of surgical implants from acrylic, titanium and many other materials.
Mobbs thinks that such an operation is a first step to a great surgical opportunity like printing patient’s own cells to make full-fledged organs. Thanks to 3D printing technology there won’t be queues on organ transplantation along with illegal organ donation business. Many people will be saved. And former cancer patients will forget about their diseases for good.