The medical application of 3D printing has been profound over the years. One of the breakthroughs involving this technology was the successful skull transplantation conducted by doctors from the Universidade Estadual de Campinas in Brazil.
The first ever surgical procedure involving 3D printing technology, doctors transplanted a 3D printed titanium skull on a 23-year old patient suffering from a horrible head fracture that left a 12 cm hole across her skull. Without this medical intervention, the patient suffered from aches as well as pains throughout her body.
The patient’s family couldn’t afford conventional face prosthetics. Thus the researchers, led by Professor Paul Kharmandayan, worked on developing the prosthetics using 3D printer. He mentioned that while 3D printing has been phenomenal in other countries, it is not yet a popular option in Brazil. This first skull implant is a breakthrough because the researchers used domestic resources to create the implant.
Doctors used imaging scans of the patient’s head to study her condition. Moreover, they used the images created from CT scan, MRI and X-ray to fashion a skull transplant specific to the dimensions and morphology of the patient’s skull. The artificial skull was printed using both resin and titanium. The titanium implant was used to cover the hole on the patient’s head while the resin implant was used by doctors as a model to help them prepare for the surgery. The operation was a complete success and the patient showed signs of recovery after a week.