Opinion Piece: Patient-Specific Implants May Be the Next Big Thing in Spinal Surgery

J Pers Med. 2021 Jun 2;11(6):498. doi: 10.3390/jpm11060498.


The emergence of 3D-Printing technologies and subsequent medical applications have allowed for the development of Patient-specific implants (PSIs). There have been increasing reports of PSI application to spinal surgery over the last 5 years, including throughout the spine and to a range of pathologies, though largely for complex cases. Through a number of potential benefits, including improvements to the implant-bone interface and surgical workflow, PSIs aim to improve patient and surgical outcomes, as well as potentially provide new avenues for combating challenges routinely faced by spinal surgeons. However, obstacles to widespread acceptance and routine application include the lack of quality long-term data, research challenges and the practicalities of production and navigating the regulatory environment. While recognition of the significant potential of Spinal PSIs is evident in the literature, it is clear a number of key questions must be answered to inform future clinical and research practices. The spinal surgical community must selectively and ethically continue to offer PSIs to patients, simultaneously allowing for the necessary larger, comparative studies to be conducted, as well as continuing to provide optimal patient care, thereby ultimately determining the exact role of this technology and potentially improving outcomes.

Keywords: Three-Dimensional Printing (3DP); custom implant; patient-specific implants (PSI); spinal surgery.