3D printing technology saves Indiana girl from paralysis

CLARKSVILLE, Ind — An innovative surgery using 3D printing technology is alleviating pain for some of the most critical and complicated cases in our area. A 13-year-old girl from Clarksville, Indiana is one of those cases.

Dr. Kent Walker says he wasn’t sure at first how to perform the surgery needed to correct Haley Kessinger’s spine. He’s a pediatric orthopedic surgeon for Norton Children’s Orthopedics of Louisville.

“I would say very complicated cases come probably one or two a year,” Dr. Walker said. “This was probably one of the most complicated cases in America that day.”

Haley Kessinger

Haley Kessinger

WHAS

The 13-year-old from Southern Indiana was born with a common form of Dwarfism, as well as a deformity in her spine more commonly known as a hunchback.

“Ultimately, if left alone, it could’ve paralyzed her,” Dr. Walker said.

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The pain in Haley’s back and legs had become unbearable. Looking at her before and after scans, Dr. Walker could only describe it as ‘intense.’ He says preparing for her surgery wasn’t easy.

Haley Kessinger scan

Haley Kessinger scan

WHAS

“I went to conferences. I went to courses specifically for this case,” Walker said.

In fact, it wouldn’t have been possible in Louisville just a couple years ago. Her team of surgeons used new Firefly Technology, which converts CT scans into digital files that can be 3D printed.

“It’s kind of helpful to have an actual spine in your hand that is just like the spine you’re operating on,” Walker said.

Haley Kessinger and 3D spine

Haley Kessinger and 3D spine

WHAS

Haley’s surgeons could study a 3D replica right in the operating room to ensure the surgery was a success and it was.

“The best thing I’m happy about is she’s doing well. It doesn’t matter how good the x-ray looks. It matters how the patient is,” Walker said.

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Three months post-surgery, Haley’s walking with her head held high.

“I’ve gained more than an inch and a half,” Haley said. “It used to hurt when I walked. But now it just feels normal.”

Contact reporter Brooke Hasch atbhasch@whas11.com. Follow her onTwitter (@WHAS11Hasch) andFacebook.

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