Aug 4, 2017 | By David

As 3D printing is implemented more and more in surgical practice around the world, one plastic surgeon in Paris has carved himself out a niche as one of the experts in the field. Laurent Lantieri has been carrying out major cranial reconstructive surgery since 1994, and 3D printing has become a key part of his process. In 2010, he and his team at the Georges Pompidou Hospital successfully achieved the world’s first full facial transplant, and he continues his inspiring and pioneering work there to this day.

Lantieri’s office contains shelves lined with plastic replica skulls, each representing a patient operated on. There are many with missing eye sockets, jawbones, and other significant deformities. Only the most seriously injured or disfigured patients visit Lantieri, most of whom have undergone serious accidents or suffer from genetic diseases. His work can help them to recover from the trauma of this as well as the discomfort and loss of functions, and puts them on the way to having a normal life again.

Before 3D printing technology became more accessible, Lantieri used to make use of CT scans and standard surgical equipment, to try and approximate a reconstruction of the patient’s face or head. He would search through thousands of boxes of generic plates, casts, and screws in the hope of finding something that would fit. Since 2008, however, his toolkit has been vastly improved and specialized, with the help of Belgian 3D printing company Materialise.

Materialise is able to take a CT scan and create a virtual 3D model of a patient’s face from it. This is then used as a guide to build implants that are specific to a patient’s anatomy. A shattered cheekbone on the left side of a person’s face, for example, is replaced with a mirror image from the right side. This means that the fit will be perfectly comfortable and the results will be much more aesthetically pleasing and structurally sound.

Materialise uses Concept Laser’s 3D printing systems to produce the facial implants, initially creating a prototype for Lantieri to test, before eventually producing the finished implant. The LaserCUSING machines are SLM 3D printers, using special titanium powder to make the best quality implant possible.

According to Lanieri, 3D printing has completely revolutionized the way his surgery practice operates: “In the past, I was just guessing,” he says. “We never had the correct shape. But using 3D-printed skulls — to have them in my own hands — to determine what are the difficulties, where are the impediments in advance, it makes a huge difference.”

It’s not just his own work that is improved, other members of his team are finding their work much easier and more efficient with the help of Materialise and Concept Laser: “The OR nurses love (the specialized surgical toolkits),” Lantieri says. “They just have to open the box and we have all the different elements in order of use. No more boxes. We save time because we know exactly what we have and where it goes. Everything is exactly what I want and what I need for each step.”

Concept Laser was recently acquired by technology giant GE, whose 3D printing division is one of the major influences on the industry. Hopefully this will ensure the continuing success of the company and the continued advancement of its 3D printing technology, passing on the benefits to surgical practitioners and patients alike.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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Edi wrote at 3/30/2019 3:57:09 PM:

Hello I have facial assimmetry and long face and total nose deformity and collaps. My interest is long face correction, lefort correction, zygom reduction, chin and jaw reduction, brow bone reduction , eye orbital assimmetry correction, total nose correction by multipple grafts. And 2 cm septal perforation to correct Can you helo me Regards

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