Sep.5, 2013

We're ready to use 3D printing to repair, fix and completely replace damaged bone. Doctors have already replaced a patient's jaw with a 3D-printed titanium implant, and now doctors in China have also used 3D printing technology to repair a man's damaged skull.

The First Affiliated Hospital of Xi'an Jiaotong University in China has successfully replaced part of a patent's skull using 3D-printed material. The surgery occurred end of last month, Dr. Wang Mao De, Chen Wei and their team began the process with a CT scan of the patient's skull. Then the printer printed a matching piece of the skull's missing part, layer by layer. Unlike existing implants made from materials like titanium, the plastic implants are light and non-corroding. The precise manufacturing technique can not only mimic a real skull, but also add detailing on the surface and edges of the implant to help existing bone attach to the implant more easily.

The implant is made from a type of thermoplastic called polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), which is biocompatible, mechanically similar to bone, and radiolucent so as not to interfere with X-Ray equipment.

China is not the first country that is now ready to take the field of medical 3D printing to a new level. Back in February, USA-based Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) has announced it had received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its skull implant made from PEKK polymer. In March, a surgery was performed on an American patient that 75 percent of his skull was replaced with a 3D printed implant.

OPM adapted a P800 SLS machine made by EOS in Germany to produce the part quickly from a patient's CT or MRI scan. According to the company, SLS is ideal for polymer materials because the mechanical properties of the material can be well preserved. And in addition the "rough" surface typically associated with an SLS process 'encourages' the growth of cells and allows bone to attach more easily.

OPM believes that approximately 300 to 500 patients could take advantage of such technology each month in US, especially those who have suffered car accidents or head trauma. 3D printing is offering patients and doctors options where there were none just a few years ago. Next, the medical advancements will likely expand to include more implant options, such as hips, knee caps, or even all parts of the human body.

"If you can replace a bony void in someone's head next to the brain, you have a pretty good platform for filling bony voids elsewhere," said Scott DeFelice, president of Oxford Performance Materials.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Zina Rose wrote at 12/6/2013 8:10:12 PM:

hello i have a case for you my name is zina rose and i have no bone left in my mouth and i want to know if you could fix something like this the top part of my mouth is only skin and the bottom jaw don't have bone ? so can you help ?

MichaelAtOz wrote at 9/5/2013 10:59:01 PM:

"all the parts of the human body"? You still need bone marrow. Although you could encase bones to produce Wolverine

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