Australian neurosurgeon Ralph Mobbs of Prince of Wales Hospital in Sydney performed the 15-hour procedure.
“I saw this as a great opportunity,” Mobbs told Mashable. “[With 3D printing], the patient could be supplied with a custom-printed body part to achieve the goals of the surgery much better than we previously have had in our bag of tricks.”
Australian firm Anatomics designed the printed titanium replacements that fit into the space where the vertebrae were removed.
“3D printing our body parts is the next phase of individualized health care,” Mobbs told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. “To restore bones, joints, organs with this type of technology really is super exciting.”
“In the not-too-distant future, given the appropriate regulatory requirements and ethical considerations, this will start happening,” Mobbs said. “Whether we’re printing a disc for a patient or a pancreas for a diabetic … this is within our lifetime.”
You can see part of the surgery in the video below.