Monday, 6 February 2012

3D printed jaw replaces infected one

3D printing is elevated to the next level, where a team of surgeons and scientists from Belgium and the Netherlands managed to replace an 83-year-old woman’s entire lower jaw in a successful operation which saw her badly infected one removed, only to have a 3D-printed implant embedded in return. This is not the first time such a procedure was performed, but it marks the first time an entire, whole mandible was involved in the operation. According to the surgical team, they felt that a traditional reconstruction would have been too risky due to the patient’s advanced age, so thinking out of the box saw them settle for a nearly-perfect printed replica.
With the advancement of 3D imaging and printing technologies, such procedures have gotten a whole lot more practical, and it takes just a few hours to construct such an implant instead of days if the traditional method were to be followed. In fact, the new implant is said to be stronger than steel, albeit being a wee bit heavier than an actual human jawbone. Not only that, the length of the surgery was also reduced by approximately 16 hours, while cutting down the patient’s hospital stay from 14 to 28 days to a mere four. Seems like savings and all round warm, fuzzy feelings, right?

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