Feb 18, 2016 | By Tess

A team of doctors at the Rijeka Hospital in Rijeka, Croatia have recently and successfully attached a 3D printed ear to an elderly patient whose biological ear had to be removed because of skin cancer. The operation was executed as a joint effort between the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rijeka and the Otorhinolaryngology Clinic at the local hospital and marks yet another successful implantation of a 3D printed prosthetic.

The patient in question, an elderly man, was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, which was growing in his right ear. To properly remove the cancerous tumours, part of the patient’s ear had to be surgically removed while he was under local anesthesia.

Once the initial surgery had healed, the doctors got to work creating a 3D printed ear which could be attached to the patient’s right side. As Dr. Dubravko Manestar, who led the operation explains, “After approximately one month when the cut grew over, we opted for this type of operation, which was carried out in a team with Dr. Komljenović. Under local anesthesia we installed the 3D printed part to the missing area of the right ear. The mold was made with accurate measurements and then a number of models were printed so the most similar to the existing part of the ear could be used.”

The 3D printed ear parts were quite easily attached to the patient’s remaining ear using an adhesive, and were 3D printed from a biocompatible silicone material, resembling a real ear. The 3D printed ear model was designed by Dr. Sven Maričić and his associates Sanjin Fućk, and Duje Kalajžić and was based off of measurements made of the patient’s original ear. Four versions of the ear model were additively manufactured in varying colour tones to find the perfect match. The coloring for the ear was done by Marijan Požar.

Dr. Manestar explains that the surgical attachment of the 3D printed ear, which only required local anesthesia, marks an important type of surgery especially for elderly patients who are not always able to undergo long surgeries under full sedation. While the ear itself is not made from an organic material, it at least offers an aesthetic solution to the patient, which as Dr. Manestar says, “is also important for the socialization of patients.”

The 3D printer used in creating the implanted ear was purchased by the University of Rijeka as part of an effort to develop research infrastructure at the school. Both the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which invests in innovative projects across Europe, and Croatia’s Ministry of Science, Education and Sport funded the purchase of the 3D printer at the University of Rijeka’s Faculty of Medicine.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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