Wednesday, April 2, 2014

3D Printed Skull, Not Science Fiction

3D Printing is making medical history yet again, with the first successful 3D Printed Skull transplant! A 22-year old woman from the Netherlands was suffering from a rare bone-growth disorder, resulting in the thickening of her skull. A typical skull measures approximately 1.5 centimeters in thickness, while this patient's skull had reached an astonishing three times that of a normal skull at 5 centimeters.

The continued pressure on her brain had resulted in vision loss, severe headaches and impaired facial movement. Left untreated the pressure on her brain would have eventually lead to further loss of brain function and possible death.

3d-printed-skull-implant (1)After a 23 hour surgery at the University Medical Center in Utrecht (UMC), brain surgeon Dr. Bon Verweij replaced a large portion of her skull with a 3D printed plastic implant, relieving the pressure being placed on her brain. One of the advantages of 3D Printing is the application of a precise custom fit for patients, further decreasing the odds of rejection.

While the details of the surgery are just being released this week, the procedure actually took place three months ago. Currently the woman is said to be doing well and is back to work, with no visible signs of the procedure, regained vision and no ill side effects at this point.

3D Printed skulls, replacement organs and limbs all sound more like science fiction than reality. However 3D printing is quickly changing that and revolutionizing so many areas of our lives, but none are more exciting and rewarding than those we are seeing in the medical field.

What's next? We can't wait to see...

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