May 1, 2015 | By Simon

As additive manufacturing technologies have proved to be a successful aid in repairing damaged bone structures within the human body.  Just this past month we saw how 3D printing aided Chinese doctors in the successful hip surgery of a 42-year old woman who had been living in pain for years.  Now, it should come with little surprise that medical professionals are now using 3D printing to help repair defects and deformities of the human skull.  

Traditionally, the skull repair process has called upon titanium plates in order to fix damaged areas - which can range from birth defects to traumatic injuries.  The material is chosen for many distinctive properties including its biocompatibility, low rates of post-surgical infection and structural strength.  However, when covering an abnormally large area of a skull, the material isn’t always as efficient.

Recently, neurosurgeons at the Vologda Regional Hospital in the Vologda region of Russia called upon the assistance of Dr. Ivan Ulianovsky to help create a mold for a cranial implant for a patient who had extensive post-traumatic bone defects of the skull.  

Due to the severity of the injury, Dr. Ulianovsky determined that titanium - although being the most commonly used material in similar surgeries - was not the ideal material in this case because of its potential for deformation.  Rather, Dr. Ulianovsky requested that a cold-curing acrylic powder commonly used in the field of dentistry for dentures and orthodontic appliances - Protakril-M - be used instead.  

However, rather than simply attaching a plate to the skull, using Protakril-M required an extremely accurate mold of the patient’s damaged skull, which would be used to fill in the damaged area with near-100% accuracy.

To create the mold, Dr. Ulianovsky used the patient’s CT scan data to create a digital model that he was then able to clean up and convert into a printable 3D model.  Once the replica of the patient’s damaged skull was created, Dr. Ulianovsky then used the Protakril-M to create a seamless implant by pouring it directly into the 3D printed replica.  In addition to creating the final form and dimensions for the implant, the use of the 3D printed skull replica also allowed the surgeons to see in advance of the actual surgery how the implant would fit into their patient’s skull.  

According to Dr. Ulianovsky, the procedure included two revolutionary breakthroughs:  the ability to design the shape of the implant to match the anatomical features of the skull of the patient, which is critical for the patient’s recovery after a serious brain injury and can determine the quality of life, as well as significantly reducing the time the patient is under anesthesia, which has a significant economic impact.  

The procedure is yet another example of how 3D printing is benefiting the medical industry in multiple ways - or in this case,  multiple ways in a single procedure.  



Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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Angulimala wrote at 1/13/2016 7:05:06 AM:

Hey, can anyone please tell me what is this software??

Jaime Andrés Bonilla wrote at 5/8/2015 8:08:10 AM:


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