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Hua Zhou, Shanshan Liu, Zhehuang Li, Xiaoguang Liu, Lei Dang, Yan Li, Zihe Li, Panpan Hu, Ben Wang, Feng Wei, and Zhongjun Liu

OBJECTIVE

A 3D-printed vertebral prosthesis can be used to reconstruct a bone defect more precisely because of its tailored shape, with its innermost porous structure inducing bone ingrowth. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical outcomes of using a 3D-printed artificial vertebral body for spinal reconstruction after en bloc resection of thoracolumbar tumors.

METHODS

This was a retrospective analysis of 23 consecutive patients who underwent surgical treatment for thoracolumbar tumors at our hospital. En bloc resection was performed in all cases, based on the Weinstein-Boriani-Biagini surgical staging system, and anterior reconstruction was performed using a 3D-printed artificial vertebral body. Prosthesis subsidence, fusion status, and instrumentation-related complications were evaluated. Stability of the anterior reconstruction method was evaluated by CT, and CT Hounsfield unit (HU) values were measured to evaluate fusion status.

RESULTS

The median follow-up was 37 (range 24–58) months. A customized 3D-printed artificial vertebral body was used in 10 patients, with an off-the-shelf 3D-printed artificial vertebral body used in the other 13 patients. The artificial vertebral body was implanted anteriorly in 5 patients and posteriorly in 18 patients. The overall fusion rate was 87.0%. The average prosthesis subsidence at the final follow-up was 1.60 ± 1.79 mm. Instrument failure occurred in 2 patients, both of whom had substantial subsidence (8.47 and 3.69 mm, respectively). At 3 months, 6 months, and 1 year postoperatively, the mean CT HU values within the artificial vertebral body were 1930 ± 294, 1997 ± 336, and 1994 ± 257, respectively, with each of these values being significantly higher than the immediate postoperative value of 1744 ± 321 (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS

The use of a 3D-printed artificial vertebral body for anterior reconstruction after en bloc resection of the thoracolumbar spinal tumor may be a feasible and reliable option. The low incidence of prosthesis subsidence of 3D-printed endoprostheses can provide good stability instantly. Measurement of HU values with CT is a valuable method to evaluate the osseointegration at the bone-metal interface of a 3D-printed vertebral prosthesis.