Apr 20, 2018 | By David

3D printing technology has been used for all kinds of important and often life-saving surgical procedures, as it offers a level of design flexibility as well as speed of production that is unmatched by any other technique. Facial reconstruction is one area where 3D printing is particularly useful. The latest breakthrough happened in China, where a 10 year-old boy received a 3D printed jaw implant. This was developed by surgeons in order to repair his lower jaw, after complications related to a tumour.

(source: People's Daily)

The city of Jinan in China was the site of this 3D printing milestone, which was the first-ever 3D printed facial implant for a child. Surgeons at the Second Hospital of Shandong University were treating a young boy who had suffered from an ameloblastoma. This rare form of tumour usually forms around the teeth, and it can affect the lower and upper jaws. Initial surgical removal of the hazardous tumour unfortunately led to the boy’s lower jaw being weakened and damaged. He suffered a mandibular fracture that caused a facial deformation. Not only was this debilitating and traumatic, it also made it difficult for the boy to feed, as it had affected the way his mouth opened and closed.

The surgical team, led by surgeon Lai Qingguo, decided that a conventional facial reconstruction was too dangerous for a patient of such a young age, so they turned to 3D printing technology in order to come up with a better solution.

Qingguo was aware of the potential of 3D printing to produce implants and prosthetics of all kinds, and decided that it would be a good way to reconstruct the boy’s face. They put together a design and 3D printed it using a titanium alloy material.

(source: SDEY.net)

The total procedure time was around three hours, with the 3D printed jaw being easy to implant due to its basis on a digital model that included elements of the patient’s face, rendered virtually.

This all took place back in January, and the hospital has now made the announcement to the press that the operation proved to be a success. Three months was the predicted time that it took for the boy’s face to heal and adjust to the 3D printed titanium implant. According to Qingguo, "the jaw has aligned well and a large amount of tissue is growing."

(source: Radiopaedia)

The world’s first 3D printed jaw implant took place in Wales last year, where a woman had also suffered the effects of removing a tumour in her facial region. CT scans were used in order to fabricate a titanium jaw implant that would perfectly fit with the remaining bone, and this operation was also a great success. A few years earlier, surgeons had started out making use of accurate 3D printed facial molds, which would then be filled with a polymer or other material to set and form an accurate implant. Using 3D technology to design and directly fabricate the implant is now a relatively common process, in the UK, the U.S., and elsewhere.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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