The University of Hasselt (Belgium) announced today that Belgian and Dutch scientists have successfully replacing a lower jaw with a 3D printed model for a 83 year-old woman. According to the researchers, It is the first custom-made implant in the world to replace an entire lower jaw.
The lower jaw of the elderly woman was badly infected and needed to be removed. Considering the age of the patient, a "classical" microsurgical reconstructive surgery takes too long time and can be risky. Therefore a tailor-made implant is the best choice.
Normally it takes a few days to produce a custom implant, but with 3D printing technology it takes only a few hours.
This development is led by Research Institute BIOMED at Hasselt University, in collaboration with surgeons from the Netherlands, including the Orbis Centre in Sittard-Geleen, Xilloc Medical BV, Maastricht and Cam bioceramics BV in Leiden.
The 3D printer prints titanium powder layer by layer, while a computer controlled laser ensures that the correct particles are fused together. Using 3D printing technology, less materials are needed and the production time is much shorter than traditional manufacturing. The mandible was finally given a bioceramic coating compatible with the patient's tissue by BioCeramics in Leiden. The artificial jaw weighs 107 grams, it is only 30 grams heavier than a natural jaw, but the patient can easily get used to it.
The operation was performed in June last year in the hospital in Sittard-Geleen. One day later the lady could start talking and swallowing.
"Computer technology is causing a revolution in medical industry", said professor Jules Poukens from BIOMED. "A traditional surgery takes up to 20 hours, and the patient should definitely stay 2 to 4 weeks in the hospital. But this operation lasted four hours and the woman could go home after four days."
The university expects that such patient-specific implants will be widely used in the future.
Clear that medicine will be an area where 3D printing will do well