3D printing allows you to create whatever you can imagine, from toys and gizmos to even objects like cars and guns. Now, it seems 3D printing has finally made its way to medicine: An un-named male patient in the US has reportedly replaced 75 percent of his skull with 3D printed materials.
According to News Limited, the undisclosed patient had his head imaged by a 3D scanner before South Windsor, Conn.-based Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) gained approval from US regulators to print the bone replacement.
OPM's final skull replacement was built within two weeks, and inserted in the patient's skull in an operation performed earlier this week; this cutting-edge procedure was only just revealed on Friday. That said, details about the patient's condition both before and after the surgery remain unknown; we've reached out for comment, and we'll update this article as soon as we learn more.
The bone implant from OPM isn't made of simple plastic: The company etched small but important surface details into a polyetherketoneketone solution, which is said to help encourage the growth of new cells and bone.
According to the report, OPM was granted approval by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back on Feb. 18, which means the company can now provide 3D printed replacements for bones damaged by trauma or even disease. The company says this technique could benefit more than 500 US citizens each month, from injured factory or construction workers to wounded soldiers.
If this technique proves to be a cheap and efficient solution for injuries or patients with bone loss, 3D printing could become a major mainstay in medicine. According to OPM, producing a finished bone implant can take less than two weeks once the company has received the 3D scans of the impacted area.
We've reached out to OPM for comment to learn more about this groundbreaking technique and its plans to involve itself in procedures moving forward, and we'll update this article as soon as we learn more.
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