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Chinese farmer, Hu, to receive a novel surgery to replace half of his skull with a 3D print. (via IBTimes)

 

Doctors are on a roll with 3D printed body replacement parts this year as yet another pioneering surgery was done in China. A Chinese farmer, named Hu, had a 3D-printed titanium implant to replace half of his skull. Hu fell from the third story of a building during construction and suffered severe injuries to his skull. The fall caused a depression in his skull which obviously affected his brain. Due to the injuries, Hu has been unable to speak and write and has suffered vision loss.

 

Luckily, 3D printing makes creating replica replacement body parts fast, easy, and cheap. Doctors have been going 3D printing mad as they've used the technology to save many lives during emergency surgeries. Some surgeons, particularly in China, have been heading a new frontier by performing experimental surgeries which replace bones with 3D prints to give patients a shot a returning to a normal life. Recently, a 12-year old boy got a 3D printed vertebrae implanted.

 

Hu isn't the first person with a 3D printed skull implant, but Chinese surgeons used a 3D printed titanium mesh, instead of a plastic implant used on a woman recently. The doctors have placed the 3D print underneath his skin and have attached it to his remaining skull. They hope that his brain will be able to recover and that he'll regain his normal functions soon. For now, the surgery was successful, but Hu must recover for at least 3 months. Afterward, doctors will continually monitor his progress.

 

3D printing offers surgeons new avenues to accurately reconstruct bones in the body. While the long-term prognosis for patients is still unknown, the initial results seem promising. For instance, a victim of a biking accident in Britain was able to get an accurate reconstruction of the other half of their face using 3D printing technology. These new technologies not only allow doctors to get an accurate scan of the shape of the replacement parts necessary, but they can create a customized 3D print accurately, quickly, and cheaply (compared to finding an organic replacement). It seems like 3D printing can actually save lives and change patient’s lives for the better.

 

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