July 16, 2015 | By Simon

It’s no secret that within the past year, 3D printing has exploded in the medical industry for a range of applications due to the ability to manufacture custom physical objects on demand at a low cost.  

While we’ve previously seen how doctors are using a combination of 3D scanning and additive manufacturing methods to produce physical study models of a patient’s ailment prior to operating and even entirely new body parts, very few of these use cases have been related to what is arguably one the human body’s most sensitive areas: the face.  Yet for one Chinese man who was shot in the face while working in Ethiopia, 3D printing recently helped provide him with nearly an entirely new face.   

The 38-year-old man, Mr. Zhou, had been working and living in Ethiopia when he was unexpectedly shot in both his right leg and his face by an undisclosed suspect this past May.

Although he was in very rough shape, a local hospital was able to give Mr. Zhou a tracheotomy however the resulting incident still left him with a severe mandibular defect on the right side of his face.  Due to the significant loss of his mandible and teeth, Mr. Zhou was unable to eat properly nor move his jaw like he was once able to.  

Fortunately, Mr. Zhou was soon after able to be admitted into the Red Cross Hospital in Xi’an, China where doctors took a more refined look at his condition in an effort to determine a better course of action for repairing his mandible.

After taking X-rays and CT scans of Mr. Zhou’s existing mandible, the Xi’an Red Cross Hospital’s ENT specialist, Gong LongGang, determined that they would be able to recreate Mr. Zhou’s mandible with a digital 3D model that would subsequently be 3D printed out of titanium.  

Just yesterday, Mr. Zhou received the implant surgery for the new 3D printed jaw that was created using his X-ray and CT scan data.  According to Gong, the surgery was a success and Mr. Zhou is expected to make a full recovery, including the ability to eat properly again once doctors replace his missing teeth.

Thanks to doctors like Longgang Gong, China has since become one of the fastest adopters of 3D printing to date when it comes to medical applications and is only likely to keep turning towards the technology as we move into the future of healthcare.   



Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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