Researchers from EAFIT University in Medellin developed a spine implant that fits to each patient, for which they already received a patent.
The idea was born in 2014, after neurosurgeon Carlos Mario Jimenez told Juan Felipe Isaza and Santiago Correa Velez, EAFIT researchers, the difficulties caused by commercial spine implants, because they did not fit very well to all human sizes.
Thereafter, the three began to work on a customizable implant that not only serves to replace a removed vertebra, but also recovers the natural curvature of the spine. For this, the researchers invented a mathematical process that determines the dimensions that the implant must have.
“With the natural loss of curvature, greater compressions occur in certain vertebrae, which over time deteriorate, compress nerves that pass through there and cause hernias in the vertebral disc, resulting in a lot of pain,” said Correa.
The researchers used the material known as PEEK (polyarylethe-retherketone) to manufacture implants. This is a polymer with properties very similar to natural bone, which not damages the vertebrae by being in contact with it, unlike titanium.
After obtaining the patent, which process was supported by the EAFIT Office for Innovation Transfer, the researchers expect to make the first procedure in two months.
The process begins with a scan of the affected area to determine the design of the implant according to the specific dimensions required by the patient. Then a three-dimensional printing of the area is done to verify the angle needed.
While customization may increase the costs of this implant, Correa said that they will not exceed those of implants already on the market, ranging from 6 to 12 million Colombian pesos. Additionally, costs will be lower as surgeons do not have to try several pieces to find one that fits well, the remaining cannot longer be reused. In this case, the safety before the procedure is greater, since only one attempt is made.
Source: Agencia ID