To help build customized endplates for prostheses, researchers at the Eindhoven University of Technology and the Netherlands Organization for Applied Research are using Math-ematica 5.2 software.
The researchers' technique involves importing 3D MRI and CT scans of injured spines, enhancing the scans as required, and performing a 3D "fit" of the endplates with a segmentation technique that uses what's called a balloon algorithm running in the software. (Imagine a small balloon inflated between two spinal vertebrae. It perfectly meshes against the vertebral surfaces and provides contours for modeling prosthesis geometry.) Researchers then export the geometry in STL format to a CNC machine, which cuts the customized endplates.
Fitting a prosthesis to a vertebrae is critical to patient outcome in spinal-disc replacement. Imperfect alignment often increases pressure on the spinal column, causes excessive wear, and creates other complications. Current prostheses are typically a one-size-fits-all.
Wolfram Research Inc., wolfram.com