Spinal fusion, a procedure that merges two or more vertebrae in the spine with an implanted piece of titanium, plastic, or bone, is used to treat spinal degeneration, instability, and/or nerve compression. 3D-printing of customized, titanium spinal implants is a cutting-edge technique that offers improved outcomes for spinal fusion patients.
3D-printed implants have a special design and can be printed to match your individual needs.
- Unique structure: While traditional spinal implants are often a solid piece of material, 3D-printed implants have a complex geometric structure. Many short titanium beams interconnect to form a lightweight, high-strength web. This is referred to as a “trussed” design.
- Growth-promoting texture: 3D-printed implants have a rough texture that provides a stable and stimulating environment for bone growth.
- Customized fit: Each implant is 3D-printed in multiple shapes and sizes which are matched to the patient during surgery. This allows the implant to be custom-fit to your individual anatomy. The surgical instruments used to perform the procedure can also be printed to match your body’s needs.
3D-printed implants offer several benefits. Their design can better distribute weight and pressure, avoiding excess stress on any one part of the fusion site. Their open structure also allows for up to 75% of the implant to be filled with graft material, encouraging nearby cell growth and promoting better bonding.
The trussed structure and rough texture of 3D-printed implants stimulate the body’s own bone to grow across the implant, just as your body grows to repair a broken bone. This results in a more predictable, faster recovery. Many patients are fully recovered from spinal fusion using a 3D-printed implant in as little as three months.
Who is eligible to receive a 3D-printed spinal implant?
Except in certain cases, such as when a patient has an allergy or reactions to the metal, 3D-printed implants are an option for almost all people who are in need of spinal fusion. The technology can be particularly helpful in severe or complex cases that require multiple levels of fusion or higher fusion rates. Talk to your doctor to see if a 3D-printed implant may be an option for your spinal fusion procedure.