Jan 3, 2017 | By Tess

A New York family has had a happy 2016 holiday largely in part to a team of dedicated doctors and their innovative use of 3D printing technologies.

The holidays are a time to come together, to celebrate, and to be grateful for the things in life you have and love. For one family, this Christmas was particularly poignant, as it marked their son’s first Christmas, something that they are not taking for granted.

Seven months ago, Nicole Bono gave birth to a son, Vincent, who was born with a severe type of craniosynostosis, a rare skull defect that results in babies being born with cranial deformities and ridges that can severely impede the child’s learning capabilities, seeing, and overall developmental health. For babies born with craniosynostosis, early treatment can be crucial to the child’s development. Treatment of course, involves cranial surgery, a risky, complicated operation.

As Dr. Michael Egnor, a professor of neurosurgery at New York’s Stony Brook Medicine explained to the press, “If [craniosynostosis] is not fixed in infancy, it becomes a deformity that really limits their ability.” Fortunately, Dr. Egnor and his team had 3D printing technologies at their disposal, and like for many complex surgical preparations, they were able to use the technology to help better prepare for the operation.

Essentially, the doctors used the technology to 3D print a skull model that was based on Vincent’s own head. More specifically, the models were based on CAT scans of Vincent’s skull, which they were then able to digitally reconstruct, and study from all possible angles and view points. Importantly, the 3D printed skulls allowed the team of surgeons to actually practice the surgery beforehand, by taking the 3D printed skull apart, fixing the deformity, and reconstructing the pieces.

Dr. Egnor commented: “The 3D modeling technique makes the operation considerably safer.” In addition to prepping the surgeons for the patient-specific procedure, 3D printed surgical models have also tended to help reduce the overall time of surgical procedures, largely because the surgeons know what they are in for. In Vincent’s case, the surgery lasted a (still quite long) five hours, though in the end, the procedure was a success.

Now, having celebrated their first Christmas with their young son, the Bono family are saying thanks to the doctors that made it possible. “The surgery went well, so we are very thankful for that,” said the father, Mark Bono.

On a larger scale, 3D printed surgical guides have had an increasing importance within hospitals, as they have helped surgeons to study a particular patient’s condition or anatomy in a much more detailed tangible way than before. In addition to that, having patient-specific models can help to reassure patient’s and help them to understand exactly what is happening with their body.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Kate Phillips wrote at 3/5/2017 3:59:13 AM:

I would like to use the photograph of the baby skull display about the use of 3D printing in medicine at Scienceworks museum in Melbourne. Could you provide a link or contact for the photographer? Thanks, Kate Phillips kphillips@museum.vic.gov.au

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