A full skull reconstruction surgery is very difficult to achieve using conventional surgical procedures. However researchers from the Second People’s Hospital of Hunan Province in China performed the first ever full skull reconstruction surgery using 3D printing technology.
The patient was a 3 year old girl suffering from a rare condition called congenital hydrocephalus which caused her head to grow four times its normal size. This condition can also cause problems with brain development. Moreover, the fluid in the brain creates such huge pressure that is detrimental to brain development and functions.
The lead surgeon, Dr. Bo said that the patient will not have survived if she did not get the treatment. The first step to treating her is to remove the infection within her head and application of skin grafting surgery as well as insert a shunt to remove the infection, while also draining the fluid from her brain. However, this is just a temporary solution to her problem.
She also underwent a CT scan so that doctors can create skull models for 3D printing. The model was also used by the doctors to create the titanium mesh skull implants that will be used to correct the size of the head of the patient.
During the procedure, her scalp was removed from her skull and immersed in a saline solution. Drainage tubes were also placed in the head to remove the cerebrospinal fluid. Once the fluids were removed, the surgeons inserted the titanium implants into her head to recreate a new skull. After the grueling surgery, the patient is expected to make a full recovery. The success of this surgery made 3D printing very promising for neurosurgery.