RMIT researchers have helped create Australia's first custom-built titanium spinal implant.
Researchers at RMIT have collaborated with a medical device company and a neurosurgeon to successfully deliver a 3D-printed vertebral cage to a patient with severe back pain.
When an abnormal structure of the fifth lumbar vertebra and severe degeneration of the adjacent disc was causing Amanda Gorvin constant lower back pain she was referred to spine surgery specialist Dr Marc Coughlan, at the North Gosford and Prince of Wales Hospitals.
A Channel 9 report on the Australian-first spinal implant created by a 3D printer.
Alicia Loxley [Presenter, Channel 9 News]: In an Australian first a spinal implant created on a 3D printer has successfully treated a woman's chronic back pain. The titanium body part was custom made to the patient's spine, and it's hoped the technology will soon be used to alleviate other orthopedic ailments. Emily Rice explains.
Emily Rice [Reporter, Channel 9 News]: Chronic back pain suffered by Amanda Gorvin is now gone because of an Australian-first spinal implant created on a 3D printer.
Amanda Gorvin [Patient]: I feel like I've got my life back.
Emily Rice: The thirty-eight year old had endured years of debilitating back problems because of a misshapen vertebra.
Amanda Gorvin: I was so exhausted. I'd had enough. My quality of life was rubbish.
Dr Marc Coughlan [Spine surgery specialist, Prince of Wales Hospital]: We really had to start thinking outside the square to try and help her.
Emily Rice: Neuro and spinal surgeons collaborated with university and prosthetic manufacturing experts to print a custom-fit titanium part to help straighten her spine.
Dr Milan Brandt [Director, Centre for Additive Manufacturing, RMIT University]: It's all about patient-specific implants and bond specific implants.
Dr Marc Coughlan: It was like a key going into a lock. It was just a perfect fit.
Emily Rice: The industrial-sized 3D printer at RMIT University uses laser technology to build layers of powdered titanium into complex shapes. The machine took just ten hours to churn out a biologically compatible part.
Dr Marc Coughlan: Now we can use customized implants to fit the specific defects in the patients, and that's a real game-changer.
Emily Rice: Building body-parts has rapidly developed from science fiction to fact. Last year, doctors used the technology to build a replacement heel to save the leg of a cancer patient. The dream is to potentially print replacement body organs to treat a raft of conditions.
Dr Milan Brandt: I think it will take a few more years before you sort of see fully functional organs manufactured, but definitely the trend is there.
Amanda Gorvin: I feel incredible. I'm so much happier, and it was only a couple of months ago, so it's amazing.
Emily Rice: Emily Rice, 9 News.
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