While the idea of cruising around in a 3D-printed car and munching on 3D-printed chocolate before returning to a 3D-printed home sure is nice, no industry is poised to benefit from this burgeoning technology in quite the way that medicine is. Replacing cancerous vertebra, delivering cancer-fighting drugs and assisting in spinal fusion surgery are just some of the examples we've covered here at Gizmag. The latest groundbreaking treatment involves an Indian cancer patient, who has had his upper jaw replaced with the help of 3D printing.
When a 41-year-old Bangalore male was diagnosed with cancer of the palate, surgeons proceeded to remove his upper jaw, which in turn left sections of his nose and mouth exposed. The patient then experienced further complications after undergoing six weeks of radiotherapy, which resulted in radiation-induced fibrosis and trismus (lockjaw), limiting his ability to open his mouth to around 20 mm (0.8 in).
Affecting his eating, speech and appearance, the patient sought a prosthesis but dentists were reluctant to treat him, as taking an impression and producing a mold proved problematic given his inability to open his mouth. It was at this point that Osteo3D got involved, a Bangalore-based company backed by the df3d design factory that specializes in 3D printing solutions for the healthcare sector.
Using a CT scan to create a 3D reconstruction of the patient's face, Osteo3D printed a replica of the patient's mouth, complete with lower and upper jaw, the defect and his teeth. With the model able to simulate the movements of the joints and open properly, this negated the difficulties inherent in producing a mold from the patient's real-life jaw.
Using the 3D-printed replica as a template, a wax model was produced and adjusted for a snug fit. This was then hardened, fitted with teeth and handed over to the patient. Thanks to the new prosthesis, his chewing, swallowing, speaking and smiling are now said to be much improved.