12-year-old boy with bone cancer gets first 3D-printed vertebra

3D printed vertebra

Of all the fascinating objects produced by 3D printers, this may be the most amazing yet.

Of all the fascinating objects produced by 3D printers in the short time they’ve existed, this may be the most amazing yet.

China Central Television reports that a “Beijing hospital has carried out the the world’s first 3D printed vertebra surgery.” In a five-hour operation, doctors replaced the tumorous second vertebra in the neck of a 12-year-old boy named Minghao, who had injured his spine due to then-undiagnosed bone cancer.  

Liu Zhongjun, director of orthopedics at Peking University Third Hospital, explained the groundbreaking procedure and how it would benefit the young patient:

“Using existing technology, the patient’s head needs to be framed with pins after surgery. The patient’s head cannot touch the bed when he is resting. This lasts for at least three months. But with 3D printing technology, we can simulate the shape of the vertebra, which is much stronger and more convenient than traditional methods.”

For some days after the surgery, Minghao “still could not speak and had to use a writing board to communicate,” though he’s doing well and expected to recover soon. Miracles just don’t always happen overnight.

H/T CCTV | Photo by Michael Dorausch/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Miles Klee

Miles Klee

Miles Klee is a novelist and web culture reporter. The former editor of the Daily Dot’s Unclick section, Klee’s essays, satire, and fiction have appeared in Lapham’s Quarterly, Vanity Fair, 3:AM, Salon, the Awl, the New York Observer, the Millions,  and the Village Voice. He's the author of two odd books of fiction, 'Ivyland' and 'True False.'