Perhaps another page in the history of medicine was written in the City Clinic of Görlitz. According to the clinic, the functional spine implant installed this week was fully printed on a 3D printer. The implant consists of titanium, and it is much more functional than the previously used models. According to the clinic, this model is the only one of its kind.
How does it function in general? Most operations of this kind are necessary in consequence of herniated intervertebral disc disease. In rare cases, after severe accidents, the vertebra needs to be stabilized. For this, an implant is placed between the vertebrae. It is implanted in a compressed state and is straightened only during the surgery. So, during the operation the surgeon can adjust the height and the appropriate angle of the implant. This is the innovation. While the previously used models were made in the finished shape, this model can be individually adapted.
3D printing technology is very well suited for the production of medical implants. I think that in the near future there will be impressive inventions in this field.
“The new method makes it possible to recreate the natural silhouette of the spine,” says Marcus Eif, Head of Neurosurgery at the City Clinic of Görlitz. According to him, the spine is stabilized sufficiently, and at the same time its natural curvature is preserved.
It was impossible with the implants used before, and besides it caused inconvenience to patients in their daily lives. In this regard, Eif was looking for a way to preserve patient mobility despite the surgery.
Since 2013, together with his team at the Saxon Vertebrological Centre, he has researched materials suitable for the implantation. For two and a half years, Eif has worked on the creation of this special implant on a 3D printer together with an entrepreneur from Baden-Württemberg.
Unlike drugs, medical implants in Germany do not require a state license. According to the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices, implants can be used if they are certified by an expert bureau. These services include, for example, technical supervision agencies or the company MEDCERT. If permission is given, implant manufacturers receive the so-called CE mark. At the same time, in accordance with European requirements, they can sell their products on the EU market.