Mar.26, 2014

The rise of 3D printing has turned body parts into a custom order. A 22-year-old Dutch woman who suffered from a rare disease which thickens her skull bone had her complete cranium replaced by a 3D printed implant. The operation took place at UMC Utrecht in the Netherlands. According to the hospital, this is a revolutionary procedure that has never been done before.

The disease had caused her skull to become thicker, placing too much pressure on the brain. Her cranium had become 5cm thick, while the thickness of a normal skull is around 1.5cm. Her surgeon, Bon Verweij, said she had been losing sight and the ability to make facial expressions. It was only a matter of time before she would lose other crucial brain functions and eventually die.

Surgeon Bon Verweij

Verweij has gained a lot of experience with 3D reconstructions and printing of skull bones before he proceeded. The team decided to replace her cranium with a 3D printed one made of plastic. The team designed a 3D model of the skull which were then printed out by an Australian firm specialized in 3D printing.

The UMC Utrecht has done several operations replacing sections of skull bone, but never an entire cranium. The operation, carried out by Verweij, together with surgeon Marvick Muradin and a medical team, took around 23 hours. But it was a great success, the hospital said.

"The most commonly used bone cement is an acrylic polymer which is far from ideal", Verweij said. "With 3D printing we can customise implants to their exact size. It has great cosmetic and medicinal benefits. Patients' brain function often recovers better than the traditional methods."

(Images: UMC Utrecht)

The hospital waited three months to announce this operation, as they had to make sure everything went well first. "The woman has her eyesight back. She is back to work and it is nearly impossible to see she was ever operated on." Verweij said.

The hospital says the treatment could be used to replace cancerous bone in the skull, car accident victims and people with head trauma.

This is the first time a patient had her complete cranium replaced by a 3D printed implant, the hospital said.

Posted in 3D Printing Applications

Maybe you also like:


aubenc wrote at 3/26/2014 8:30:38 PM:

Alex, it may not be the world's 1st skull "implant" however it seems to be the world's 1st skull "replacement". Amazing news btw.

Alex wrote at 3/26/2014 12:52:01 PM:

World´s first is not correct... You should delete this comment, because it´s WRONG! You get in trouble, if you write something like this... here some links of old implants, done many years ago!

Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive