The semi-automated design & manufacture of patient-specific intervertebral disc implants
Rapid Manufacturing has been successfully applied to produce patient-specific implants for several orthopedic cases including cranio-maxillofacial, dental, hip, knee and foot requirements, but very little has been published on its application for spinal implants. This may in part be due to the complex nature of spinal bio-dynamics, but probably due to the rigorous clinical approval process required for spinal implant devices. This paper reports on the development of a process chain for the semi-automated design and manufacture of patient-specific intervertebral disc implants, and includes the results of in-vitro vertebral compression tests done to evaluate the reduced risk of implant subsidence for patient-specific devices. The paper concludes with an economic assessment of the South African artificial disc implant market and the potential advantages as well as challenges of using customized implants. © 2012 Taylor & Francis Group, London.