Doctors replace most of a man's skull with a 3D-printed implant
We’ve seen some impressive ways 3D printing can make its way into medical science, between 3D printing with stem cells that can make anything, artificial blood vessels, and even transplanted organs. Now, doctors have replaced 75 percent of a man's skull with a 3D-printed replica.
The unnamed patient from the United States had nearly his entire skull replaced with a replica based on scans of his head. Oxford Performance Materials in Connecticut performed the procedure on March 4 once it received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Currently, medical procedures that replace part of a person’s skull usually involve screwing a metal plate to the existing bone. The scientists say that this 3D-printed method produces a better-fitting piece that’s also etched with surface or edge details to encourage the growth of cells and allow bone to attach more easily.
Scott DeFelice, president of Oxford Performance Materials, says that he “see[s] no part of the orthopedic industry being untouched by this."
It's a development that leaves us simultaneously impressed and squeamish. Previously, doctors replaced a woman's jaw with a 3D-printed replica, but I think it's safe to say that a 3D-printed skull is an even bigger undertaking.
The company is preparing to submit other 3D-printed bone parts for FDA approval. Maybe in time, we will be able to replace any bone that’s been too badly damaged for it to heal properly with just a two-week wait for a printed implant.