Dec 4, 2015 | By Alec

As regular readers might have observed, surgeons and academic hospitals throughout the world are very readily adopting 3D printed implants and surgical models in their procedures, which is leading to some very groundbreaking surgeries. Cranial complications, organ failure and all sorts of unusual fractures have already been dealt with through 3D printing. But it seems that even one of the most common causes of death, cancer, can also be fought off with the help of 3D printing. In a Taiwanese hospital, a 78-year-old male patient suffering from oral cancer received a perfectly fitting jawbone replica based on 3D prints, after his own – complete with tumors – was surgically removed.

Now those of you who’ve experienced oral cancer in your family or surroundings will know that it is a particularly vicious cancer. According to latest figures by the Taiwanese Ministry of Health, the average age of death of patients suffering from oral cancer is 58, while the cancer has a tendency to come back even after tumors are removed. Often the only solution is to fully remove the region where the cancer is hiding, and the damage to a person’s face is immense once a complete jawbone is removed. According to Chen Mengyan, surgeons can replace it with an implant, but these are very difficult to get to the right size by traditional method. Titanium plates are often implanted, but they not only change a person’s appearance, but they can also lead to atrophy of the flap, thus causing more problems to the patients face.

The 78-year-old patient who was being treated at the National Cheng Kung University Hospital Douliu Branch in Taiwan was thus facing an uphill battle, and had previously been treated for oral cancer in other hospitals. But with the cancer continuously returning, they had no other choice but to remove the jawbone in the National Cheng Kung University Hospital. Fortunately, a new tool was to be used: a 3D printer. According to the hospital’s dentist Chenmeng Yan this new jawbone reconstruction technique was only recently developed by Professor of Oral Surgery Wang DongYao, director of the Institute of Mechanical Engineering, together with professor Fang Jinjin.

With the help of CAD design, this new method could be used to develop tailor-made jawbones for patients that not only completely restore oral functioning, but even appearance. After going through a complete preoperative check, the Taiwanese doctors opted for this surgical treatment process. While the patient’s own jaw was to be completely removed, they first used CT scans to make a 3D model of the jaw bone and 3D printed it, using that exact replica to made a titanium metal implant.

During the actual surgery, doctors first surgical removed the tumor from the mouth and then proceeded with the complete reconstruction of the jaw bone. This was followed by precise vascular reconstructive surgery and plastic surgery to repair the defect of the cheek. While the fortunate patient not only came out of the surgery with a fully reconstructed and functional mouth, the process also reduced surgery time by approximately 20 percent while greatly reducing the burden on the patient as well.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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