3D Printing

3D-printed skull implanted into woman's head

3D-printed skull implanted int...
A woman's skull has been successfully replaced with a 3D-printed implant
A woman's skull has been successfully replaced with a 3D-printed implant
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A woman's skull has been successfully replaced with a 3D-printed implant
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A woman's skull has been successfully replaced with a 3D-printed implant
The procedure at University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht took 23 hours
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The procedure at University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht took 23 hours
The top portion of the woman's skull was removed due to a thickening condition that resulted in loss of vision and motor impairment
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The top portion of the woman's skull was removed due to a thickening condition that resulted in loss of vision and motor impairment
The 3D-printed replacement was designed to accurately fit the patient's head
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The 3D-printed replacement was designed to accurately fit the patient's head
The skull was secured in place and the woman has now recovered
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The skull was secured in place and the woman has now recovered

A 22-year-old woman has had the whole top of her skull replaced with a customized 3D-printed implant. The patient had been suffering from severe symptoms as a result of a condition that causes a thickening of the skull. It is believed that the procedure was the first of its kind.

3D printing has already been used in the medical field to produce lower jaw implants, prostheses and cells. In this instance, the skull was 3D-modeled and then printed as a single full piece that was able to be slotted and secured into place.

Dr. Bon Verweij of University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht, whose team carried out the procedure, first had to familiarize himself with reconstructions and 3D printing, in particular of partial skull implants. Implants have often previously been used when part of a skull has been removed to reduce pressure on an patient's brain. Either the removed piece of skull or an implant is used to fill the gap once the situation has improved.

The procedure at University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht took 23 hours
The procedure at University Medical Center (UMC) Utrecht took 23 hours

Verweij says that cement implants are not always a good fit, however, and that 3D printing can now ensure that the required components are an exact fit. "This has major advantages, not only cosmetically but also because patients often have better brain function compared with the old method," he explained.

Verweij worked with an Australian company called Anatomics to produce the replacement skull. Anatomics produces custom-made implants and surgical models for the medical profession and specializes in 3D printing. Not only was the procedure the first of its kind, but it was critical for the patient.

"The thickening of the skull puts the brain under increasing pressure," said Verwei. "Ultimately, she slowly lost her vision and started to suffer from motor coordination impairment. It was only a matter of time before other essential brain functions would have been impaired and she would have died. So intensive surgery was inevitable, but until now there was no effective treatment for such patients."

The surgery, only just announced, was carried out three months ago and was a success. According to Verweij, the patient has fully regained her vision and has no more complaints, which has allowed her to return to work with almost no trace of any surgery. The work undertaken on the procedure means that UMC Utrecht is now is a position to carry out other similar work.

The video below shows the procedure, and does contain footage of the operation so those of a sensitive nature might not wish to view. English subtitles are available via the video controls.

Source: UMC Utrecht

Volledige kunststof 3D-geprinte schedel geïmplanteerd

2 comments
JMP
Nice article, although apparently this was not the first 3D-printed skull implant in the world. There was one that was less publicised that took place in Colombia about six months ago. Here is the link (in spanish): http://www.semana.com/gente/articulo/colombianos-pioneros-en-el-uso-de-la-impresora-3d/382077-3 JMP
nutcase
Every maxillofacial technician wants a decent 3D printer. Every dental tech, every surgical tech will have one. It will revolutionise the trade.