3D printing is cutting edge technology that has applications for everything from computer parts to space travel to medical uses. Recently, a patient in China who had undergone extensive surgery on her neck to remove a lethal cancerous tumor, received replacement vertebrae that were made using a 3D printer. While the patient received chemotherapy for her cancer, it wasn't enough to put the disease into remission; the tumor had to be removed surgically as well. This meant that her existing cervical bones would have to be removed.
Doctors took about three weeks to design the replacement bones, which were made out of a titanium alloy. Measuring about 14 centimeters long they were attached in an operation that took nearly 13 hours to complete. The patient was treated at Shanghai Chengzhang Hospital, and the surgery is believed to be the first of its kind. The patient is recovering and getting physical therapy. While it's hard to move her neck and she wears a brace, she can walk.