Mar.12, 2014

Cutting edge 3D printing technology is being used to reconstruct the severely injured face of a motorbike accident victim.

29-year-old Stephen Power from Roath in Cardiff, UK is one of the first trauma patients to have 3D printing used at every stage of the procedure to restore his looks.

Stephen Power was photographed before the operation, left, and afterwards

Mr Power suffered two broken arms and had his right leg, both cheeks, both eye sockets and his upper jaw so badly damaged after an horrific motorcyle crash in September 2012, which left him in hospital for four months.

"I can't remember the accident - I remember five minutes before and then waking up in the hospital a few months later." he said.

Doctors at Morriston Hospital, Swansea, had to break his cheekbones again before rebuilding his face in an eight hour operation.

An x-ray of Stephen Power's skull after the operation

Consultant maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar said: "We were able to do a pretty good job with all his facial injuries, with the exception of his left cheek and eye socket.

"We fixed his facial fractures pretty well but he had damaged his left eye and the ophthalmologists did not want us to do anything that might damage his sight further.

"That was a good move because his eyesight has mostly recovered. But as a result we did not get his left cheekbone in the right place and we did not even try to reconstruct the very thin bones around his eye socket.

"So the result was that his cheekbone was too far out and his eye was sunk in and dropped."

In order to restore the symmetry of his face, the surgical team used scanned 3D images of his face to design guides to cut and position bones, as well as titanium implants which were fitted to his face. All the models were produced by 3D printing.

Mr Sugar said: "Stephen had a very complex injury and correcting it involved bones having to be re-cut into several fragments.

"It was a three dimensional exercise. We had virtual and physical model planning for each stage of the operation. It made sense to plan it in three dimensions and that is why 3D printing came in – and successive 3D printing, as at every different stage we had a model.

"Without this technology, you have to guess where everything goes. With 3D printing, we are far more precise.

"This is the first time we've taken it to this stage, where everything to the last screwbeing inserted has been planned and modelled in advance – and worked sweetly."

A skull model and implants produced using 3D printing

Before the operation, Mr Power had used a hat and glasses to disguise his cheek and eye. Now Power has said he already feels more confident.

"I won't have to hide my face away and my confidence will be back.

"I'll be able to do everyday things – go and see people, walk in the streets, just go to any public areas."

Mr Power still has a long way to go with his overall physical recovery. Mr Sugar said the same techniques would be used to help many other patients. "The aim is to undertake planning and be able to use custom-made guides and implants on a routine basis." Mr Sugar said. "Also, the more experience we get the cheaper we can do it as well."

The ultimate goal is to get this process and technique available to any surgeon.

Mr Power's operation is currently being featured in an exhibition at the Science Museum in London, called 3D Printing: The Future.


Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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mark uttley wrote at 3/12/2014 11:27:31 AM:

amazing what can be done now we turn to 3D printing

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