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India: First 3D printed titanium vertebrae implant helps 32-year-old woman walk again

Feb 17, 2017 | By Benedict

Doctors in India have helped a 32-year-old woman back onto her feet by rebuilding part of her spine with 3D printed vertebrae in a first-of-its-kind procedure. The patient had been suffering from spinal tuberculosis.

Dr Gopal Kumar and Dr V Anand Naik created a 3D printed titanium vertebrae implant

It takes a certain degree of backbone to be a doctor, but—incredibly—it took just a 3D printer for these Indian doctors to make a backbone for a 32-year-old spinal tuberculosis patient. Using advanced metal 3D printing technology, a surgical team at Medanta The Medicity hospital in Haryana was able to create 3D printed artificial vertebrae for the woman, the first operation of its kind in India.

Under the guidance of Dr V Anand Naik, a senior consultant for spine surgeries at the hospital, the surgical team was able to replace the damaged vertebrae in the patient’s spine, replacing them with a 3D printed titanium version that bridged the gap between the first and fourth cervical vertebrae. “It was a very complex surgery and the patient’s condition was deteriorating by the day,” said Dr Naik. “It would not have been possible to do it without 3D printing technology.”

The female patient, a teacher by trade, was under the knife for a total of 10 hours, a lengthy spell necessitated by the severe damage suffered by the patient’s first, second, and third cervical vertebrae. The extent of this damage meant that there was no skeletal support available between the skull and lower cervical spine.

The patient received a 3D printed implant to combat spinal tuberculosis (image: The Lancet)

“The challenge for our team was to reach high into the neck without altering the position of the patient,” explained Dr Gopal Kumar, a consultant on the operating team. “The anterior approach and small working field, in cases such as these, are a necessity.”

Although such a procedure comes with many risks for the patient, the unnamed 32-year-old had an extra special reason for wanting everything to go smoothly—especially when the surgeons took the scalpel to her neck area: “As the patient is a singer, preservation of laryngeal nerve was of prime importance,” Dr Kumar said. “Swallowing, chewing, and movement of tongue—all were at risk.”

The medical team was able to create 3D printed titanium vertebrae for the patient by first obtaining CT and MRI scans of the damaged spine. 3D design software was then used to transform these scans into printable models, which were then fabricated using an unspecified metal 3D printer. Further testing was then carried out on the 3D printed implant, and help was sought from design teams from India, Sweden, and the US.

Without the 3D printed vertebrae implant, the patient could have lost her singing voice

Twelve days after the surgery, the patient was walking with minimal support and was entirely free of pain. Furthermore, her singing voice has recovered after being threatened with dysphasia, a language disorder brought about by the patient’s tuberculosis.

“This is the first such surgery in India and probably third in the world by using 3D printing technology,” Dr Naik added. “These techniques have opened a new avenue wherein any type of complex reconstruction can be done in the spine with less collateral damages.”

Posted in 3D Printing Application

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Are 3D Printing Stocks Attracting Short Sellers Again?

Short interest during the two-week period ending September 30 fell on half of the four 3D printing stocks we follow. Buying interest in the 3D printing stocks lifted share prices for all of the players during the short interest period. But short sellers don’t see that situation as sustainable for two of the companies.

Short interest in 3D Systems Corp. (NYSE: DDD) rose by 5.4% to 27.75 million shares. Some 26.2% of the company’s float was short. Days to cover rose from nine to 10. In the short interest period, the share price rose nearly 15.5%. The stock’s 52-week range is $6.00 to $19.76, and shares closed at $16.69 on Tuesday, down about 5.8% on the day.

Stratasys Ltd. (NASDAQ: SSYS) saw short interest drop by 14.4% in the last two weeks of September to about 5.96 million shares, or 12.3% of the company’s float. Days to cover fell from seven to six. The share price rose nearly 12% in the period, and the stock closed at $22.76 on Tuesday, down more than 4% on the day. The 52-week range is $14.48 to $31.60.

Short interest in The ExOne Co. (NASDAQ: XONE) rose by 6.8% to 1.87 million shares. About 19.9% of the company’s shares were short. ExOne’s share price rose by about 13% in the two-week period. Its 52-week range is $6.50 to $16.15, and shares closed at $14.30 on Tuesday, down nearly 4% for the day. Days to cover slipped from 14 to 13.

Short interest in Voxeljet A.G. (NYSE: VJET) decreased by 4.3% to 578,954, with days to cover dipping from eight to six. The share price rose by about 9.6% in the two weeks to September 30. The American depositary shares closed at $4.32 on Tuesday, down about 3.6% for the day, in a 52-week range of $3.50 to $6.99.

Meeting Murilo, again: Huggies proves a 3D printed hug can be just as powerful as the real deal

Mar 17, 2016 | By Kira

Last year, diaper brand Huggies brought us the heart-warming story of visually impaired mother-to-be Tatiana, who came to know her unborn son for the very first time thanks to a life-like 3D printed model of his ultrasound. The advertising clip, titled Meeting Murilo, was undeniably powerful, spreading the message that the power of touch is absolutely essential to the mother-child relationship—even if, as in this case, it requires a little technological assistance by way of 3D printing.

Now, Huggies Brazil is back with a follow-up film, Murilo’s First 100 Days, in which we get to see how Tatiana and Murilo are getting along now that she doesn’t need to rely on 3D printing technology to know the beautiful details of her baby boy’s face.

In Meeting Murilo, which has now been viewed more than 13 million times, we are introduced to Tatiana at an ultrasound appointment. She glows with excitement as she describes how she imagines her unborn son might look, however we soon come to understand that Tatiana is visually impaired, and therefore relies on her sense of touch to ‘see’ and know the world—her son included.

In order to give this blind mom-to-be the experience every mother deserves, Huggies Brazil and ad agency Mood teamed with a 3D printing company The Goodfellas to create a life-like, 3D printed sculpture of Murilo’s face based on the ultrasound her doctors had just taken. The moment she realizes what is happening is beautifully moving, proving that even something as mechanical as 3D printing can, in fact, stir powerful human emotions.

In contrast, Murilo’s First 100 Days, created once again by Mood and directed by Jorge Brivilati, is centered entirely on the intimate, unmediated moments between mother and son: she gently bathes him, caresses his head, and feeds him—never losing touch with his perfect, baby-soft skin.

The three-minute clip was designed to emphasize not only the emotional power of touch, but its health benefits as well. According to Huggies, which runs the No Baby Unhugged initiative, only 12% of people associate love and affection with a baby’s development, yet affection—shown through the power of hugs—allows babies to feel safe, strengthens their immune systems, and can even promote brain development.

It’s an important message to share, and the video itself is poignant and beautiful to watch. Yet at the same time, Huggie’s sequel is somewhat less moving than its now-viral predecessor, suggesting that, at least when it comes to advertising, a 3D printed hug can be just as powerful as the real thing.

Read about other ways in which 3D printing is helping the visually impaired, and watch Huggie’s Meeting Murilo and Murilo’s First 100 Days below to see the power of both 3D printed and real-life touch in all its heart-warming glory:

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3D printing helps 3-legged pup run again

AUSTRALIA (ABC) — Thanks to cutting-edge 3-D printing technology, an Australian dog will be able to run and play without pain for the first time since he was a puppy.

Named “Ziggy,” the Border collie was found abandoned in 2014 with a deformed front leg, according to the University of Queensland Australia. Veterinarians were able to remove the leg and soon after students Rebcca Colvin and Glenn Althor adopted the puppy.

“He was a happy little puppy and didn’t mind at all that he only had three legs,” Colvin said on the University of Queensland Australia website. “However, a few months later we started to notice that he wasn’t walking well. He was limping, and seemed to be in pain.”

Ziggy’s veterinarians discovered growth plates in his remaining front leg had been damaged due to the increased pressure from only having three legs.

“We knew we needed to save Ziggy’s remaining front leg to give him a chance at a normal active life,” said Dr. Jayne McGhie, of the University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science. A corrective surgery to help stabilize his leg as he grew bought the veterinary team some time, but he needed more extensive surgery to straighten his leg, according to the University of Queensland website.

Finally, multiple team members from the School of Veterinary Science were able to study Ziggy’s leg and model it with 3-D printing technology.

“They helped with 3-D modelling so our students were exposed to the latest surgical planning techniques,” McGhie said on the University of Queensland website. “CT scan images of Ziggy’s leg were used to create computerised and printed three-dimensional models of his limb. These models were then used to calculate where the bone had to be cut and how it had to be manipulated to straighten the limb so Ziggy could walk normally.”

The practice allowed the team to confidently correct Ziggy’s damaged front leg and he’ll likely be able to soon run and play on his three feet without any help, the veterinarians said. Though he’s currently using a special wheelchair, he’s been able walk on his repaired leg without assistance.

“He’s got a very, very bright future,” McGhie said. “We think he will be a happy, healthy active dog.”

Copyright (c) 2016 ABC All Rights Reserved

Oreo the Dog Running Again Thanks to His 3D Printed Kneecap

Every dog has its day, and Oreo is one dog with some good days going for him.

Oreo is a Canadian dog living a pretty good life… well, now he is. A little more than three years ago, the pup dislocated his left hind knee cap (patella). That’s a pretty painful condition to be in, and the injury was bad enough that the patella was surgically removed. That solved one problem — a patella can’t be dislocated if it isn’t there at all — but created a new one as Oreo then walked with a limp that would never go away.



If, though, the patella were to be replaced, the limp could go away and this mixed breed dog could romp again, pain-free. His veterinarian contacted the Orthopaedic Innovation Centre (OIC) in Winnipeg, Manitoba, looking for a solution. And so began an odyssey of cross-disciplinary cooperation to help out one little dog. His caretakers included a team of veterinary surgeons, orthopaedic surgeons, and biomedical engineers working together (though physically thousands of miles apart), to create a custom patella implant just for Oreo.

OICa_2colourThe OIC is a research/testing/clinical validation facility working with medical devices, and the team there often uses 3D printing technology. We’ve seen many examples of the usefulness of 3D printing to shorten creation processes for devices, including highly specific medical devices. This seemed like a winning strategy to address Oreo’s problem.

It wasn’t just a good strategy in theory: the entire process didn’t just work, but it worked fast.

“In Oreo’s case, we were able to produce a custom-tailored implant in only four days including design, analysis, physical testing and manufacturing,” said Martin Petrak, president of Orthopaedic Innovation Centre. ” As we move down the learning curve, it will probably be possible to produce similar implants in only a day or two.”

The OIC created a digital, scale model of a donated patella that was then converted into a CAD model. The design was customized to fit Oreo’s exact size by using x-rays of his other patella to ensure that the new piece would fit his femur and quadriceps. Following a successful model, the OIC used its Stratasys Fortus 400mc 3D Production System to print the new patella. The Stratasys printer can create medical objects using bio-compatible polycarbonate to fit safely into a living body.


Left: CAD model of the patella implant. Right: actual Stratasys 3D printed patella prior to surgical insertion.

The Stratasys-printed patella was created via an FDM printing process, which has been proven to work well for biomedical applications. Petrak explains why:

“FDM is an ideal 3D printing technology for implant manufacturing because it is capable of producing strong, durable, biocompatible parts with the right physical properties. With FDM, we can tailor the implant to perfectly match the recipient’s stratasys_logoanatomy which has the potential to provide dramatic improvements in functionality and recovery time.”

Oreo’s surgery involved implanting the sterilized piece into his leg, attaching it to the tendon and quadricepts via polypropylene sutures. And Oreo himself? Just eight weeks post-op, he was good-as-pup again! His revamped leg was up to everything, doing just fine weight-bearing, with a full range of motion, and fully up to the normal dog tasks of walking, running and jumping.

It’s been more than three years now since Oreo’s patella replacement, and he’s still doing just fine. Would you get your dog a 3D printed patella replacement? Let us know what you think over at the 3D Printed Dog Patella forum.