Nov 2, 2016 | By Benedict

Carlito Conceiçao, a 54-year-old cancer survivor from Brazil, has received a 3D printed face implant made using Autodesk’s 123D Catch photogrammetry app. Doctors created a 3D printed mold using a mirror image of the healthy side of the patient’s face, before creating the prosthesis from silicone.

After losing his right eye socket and part of his nose to mouth cancer in 2008, Sao Paulo resident Carlito Conceiçao was left with few options. The cancer, known as upper maxillary carcinoma, destroyed facial tissue on the right side of the patient’s face and the roof of his mouth, and would have reached his brain were it not for life-saving surgery. The married father-of-two could count himself lucky to be alive, but his initial facial prosthesis was fragile and kept falling off, leaving him with severe confidence issues. Conceiçao fell into a depression, and would cover his face with sunglasses when leaving the house.

In February, Conceiçao was able to regain his confidence when medical professionals used a simple 3D scanning app to create a better quality prosthesis for his face. A team of specialists led by Dr Rodrigo Salazar, a Peruvian dentist and specialist in oral rehabilitation, used Autodesk’s free 123D Catch smartphone photogrammetry app to capture the patient’s face in 3D. Using the scanned image, they were then able to create a highly accurate 3D model of a prosthesis using a mirror image of the unaffected side of the face. This model was then 3D printed into a mold, which was used to create a final silicone device.

Carlito Conceiçao after surviving cancer

According to Salazar, simple and affordable technology like the Autodesk 3D scanning app and consumer-level 3D printers has enabled normal patients to receive the kind of treatment usually reserved for the privileged. “Brazil doesn’t have the resources to equip all of its clinical centers with high-end technology,” the dentist explained. “So, we’ve developed an alternative and simplified low-cost procedure that captures patients’ facial anatomy and generates physical working models, giving us the equivalent results to prostheses produced on state-of-the-art equipment that costs hundreds of thousands of pounds.”

To capture a full and accurate 3D image of Conceiçao’s face, Salazar and his team took 15 photographs of the trauma area of the face from different angles and at three different heights. Using an inbuilt accelerometer and gyroscope sensor, the smartphone running 123D Catch was then able to piece the images together to form a 3D mesh. A low-cost 3D printer was then used to print out the mold for the prosthesis, after which the prosthesis itself was cast and then hand-finished by volunteer clinical artists who added skin color, textures, and wrinkles to make the device as realistic as possible. The prosthesis was given magnets which lock onto three titanium screws on the patient’s face.

Using a 3D scanning app, doctors were able to create a new prosthesis for Conceiçao with accurate skin color and magnetic fixtures

Implanting the screws into Conceiçao’s face was the most difficult part of the process, one which required Dr Luciano Dib, a maxillofacial surgeon, to perform a two-hour operation. The magnetic connection for the prosthesis allows the patient to easily exercise, shower, and perform other activities without risk of the prosthesis falling off. Patients can also easily remove the device in order to clean it. Because of beneficial features like this, the procedure is gaining popularity in South America as a low-cost, high-reward alternative to expensive facial procedures.

In total, doctors took less than 20 hours to create the new silicone prosthesis for Conceiçao, and they hope that the “Plus ID” project, which encompasses all stages of prosthesis development, can continue to gain momentum off the back of such success stories. With head and neck cancer extremely common all around the world, the Plus ID team hopes to train as many medical professionals as possible to use technologies like 3D scanning and 3D printing. They will focus on South America, Africa, and Asia, and in remote areas of the world where there are minimal health care services.

Conceiçao's old prosthesis (above) and new implant (below), made with a 3D printer

Images: Caters News Agency / Source: The Sun

For Conceiçao, 3D scanning and 3D printing technology has simply helped him get his life back on track. “My first prosthesis was fragile, poor quality and kept falling off because it was held on by glue; I felt totally disfigured and I looked terrible,” the patient admitted. “I was so impressed by the result of the new one, I cried when they fitted it.”



Posted in 3D Printing Technology



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Rodrigo Salazar wrote at 3/15/2018 7:39:19 PM:

Thank you very much Dear Susan

Susan L Webb wrote at 11/11/2016 6:32:49 AM:

Congratulations! It is so wonderful to see other human beings caring enough to Work for hours, months, years to perfect the technology . Kudos to All involved!!!!

I.AM.Magic wrote at 11/3/2016 8:29:05 AM:

impressive ! great job

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