In the very near future doctors will have use for 3D printed materials in surgery. A group of scientists from Cornell University have pioneered spinal surgery that uses 3D printed spinal discs to replace and repair degenerative ones. The discs are created from stem cell infused bio-ink.
The team is led by Dr. Lawrence J. Bonasser who has done work with 3D printing before. He was involved in the development of prosthetic ears and injectable gel.
In this pioneering surgical procedure, the stem cell bio-ink 3D printed discs regenerate and populate themselves after the surgery. After about two weeks the process is completed and the patient’s spine is repaired. The procedure has worked for over a hundred of Dr. Bonasser’s rat subjects.
For more serious and advanced cases, Dr. Bonasser’s team can create entirely new 3D printed spinal discs. The procedure for replacing spinal discs is more invasive than the procedure for repairing spinal discs, but both procedures are big improvements over fusing the patient’s spine.
The next step for this unique and advanced procedure would be to make sure it is safe to be performed on human patients.