A première in surgery: a robot and a 3D printed model fix the spine of a 6 year-old child

The medical team from the Amiens-Picardie University Hospital (France) use a robot and a 3D printed model for a spinal surgery on a six-year-old boy. The operation, first of its kind is a true success.

After a year of preparation, Dr. François Deroussen, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon; Professor Richard Gouron, head of the child surgery department at the hospital; and Dr. Michel Lefranc, a neurosurgeon were the main surgeons in charge with the operation that took place on September 28th.

The use of 3D printing as part of the operation

First of all, the little boy suffered from both a severe progressive scoliosis and infantile spinal amyotrophy. In addition to weaken his muscles, the child could no longer sit.

The doctors 3D scan the patient to get a thorough visualization of his spine’s state. Thereafter, they 3D printed an accurate replica model of the boy’s spine.  

They used a dummy (that had the exact size of the child) in which they implanted the 3D printed spine. After a successful simulation of the surgery, the doctors realized everything was well in line with what they planned, including the surgical robot.



Called Rosa, the robot proved its capabilities during the three-hour operation. It helped to drill and install screws into the spine, after the screw fixing points had been selected.

Laying [the screws] close to the nerve roots remains very complex and uncommon; they are large in comparison to the small size of the child’s bones (a screw of 7 mm in diameter in a bone of 8 mm). The complexity of the operation as well as its potentially long duration could be alleviated, for the first time, thanks to the Rosa robot”, explained the surgeons.

Now, the little boy can sit properly. This surgery will certainly help him to avoid certain diseases caused by scoliosis.

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