I don’t generally talk about my personal experiences in my editorial, but a recent innovation in spinal surgery caught my attention. In February, I underwent spinal reconstruction surgery from T8 to S1, after already having multiple spinal fusions and implants over the past several years. I can with confidence say I am very familiar with the importance of pedicle screws being placed precisely.

When Mighty Oak Medical, a medical device company that specializes in creating and commercializing spinal technologies, announced a technical partnership with HP for 3D printed healthcare applications to improve pedicle screw placement in spinal procedures, I was amazed at the level of replicability and consistency.

Spinal fusions typically involve the use of pedicle screws to provide extra strength and support. However, if placed incorrectly, patients could experience critical injuries such as damage to the spinal cord. Mighty Oak says its familiarity with 3D printing technology resulted in the FIREFLY complete navigation system for streamlining the surgeon’s workflow and reducing screw placement time.

Using HP’s Jet Fusion 5200 3D printers, applications currently being manufactured include Mighty Oak’s FIREFLY, a patient-specific presurgical planning and navigation platform. The platform’s 3D printed medical models and 3D printed surgical guides are FDA cleared and CE marked in what the company says is “trailblazing a new era of personalized care.”

“It was important for us to maintain our focus on the spine and develop innovative solutions that make surgical procedures safer and more efficient,” says Heidi Frey, president of Mighty Oak Medical. “We have always viewed 3D printed, patient-specific solutions as an ideal way to achieve those two objectives, and now, thanks to HP’s 3D printing technology, the healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transformation in terms of the solutions, patient experience, and outcomes that new 3D printed medical devices can provide.”

Since installing HP’s printers directly onto its factory floor, Mighty Oak Medical says it is experiencing unprecedented efficiencies — all while achieving 99.7 percent screw placement accuracy. According to the company, the personalized guides eliminate intra-operative radiation exposure for both surgical staff and patients and eliminate maintenance and technician costs. The company adds that the HP 3D High Reusability PA 12 material enables surgeons to check for anomalies and gaps as well as read markings easier in an OR environment.

Such innovation is enough to get anyone to sit up straight and pay attention.

Sherrie Trigg

Editor and Director of Medical Content

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