The spinal-disc prosthesis endplate is generated with a special algorithm running in Mathematica software.

The spinal-disc prosthesis endplate is generated with a special algorithm running in Mathematica 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.

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