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article imageMan has 75% of skull replaced by 3-D printed replica

By JohnThomas Didymus     Mar 8, 2013 in Technology
A US man has received the first ever 3D-printed skull-replacement. The custom-made replacement was about 75 per cent of the man's skull.
According to News.com, the 3D-printed skull replacement was surgically inserted into the patient during a surgery that was performed early this week.
Gizmodo reports that the unnamed man first had his skull scanned digitally using a 3D scanner and a digital replica of the skull replacement was created. A replacement prosthetic plate for his skull was then printed out using a 3D printer.
Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), the Connecticut company that created the implant received US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for its OsteoFab™ Patient Specific Cranial Device (OPSCD) before the printed replacement was inserted in the patient's skull. TechFleece explains that OsteoFab is OPM’s brand for Additively Manufactured medical and implant parts produced from PEKK polymer.
The company says that following FDA approval it now able to create 3D printouts to replace damaged bone parts.
TechFleece reports the cranial implant was made up from polyetherketoneketone (PEKK). The prosthetic is printed out "layer-by-layer" from a digital CAD file. The procedure requires no external tooling and there are only few practical limits to the structures that can be produced using the procedure.
According to Gizmodo, the polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) plate has specially designed surface details consisting of textures and holes that encourage growth of cells and bone.
Unique features of PEKK, according to TechFleece, is that it is biocompatible and mechanically similar to bone. The material is also radiolucent, meaning that it does not interfere with X-Ray equipment.
Gizmodo reports that Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) said 3D-printed bone replacements could be used in other parts of the body.
The company says about 500 people in the US could benefit from the new technology every month. Potential recipients range from injured construction workers to wounded soldiers. The company says it is able to produce an implant within two weeks of obtaining 3D scans of the affected area of the body.
TechFleece reports that Scott DeFelice, the CEO of OPM, said in a statement:
"It is our firm belief that the combination of PEKK and Additive Manufacturing (our OsteoFab™ technology) is a highly transformative and disruptive technology platform that will substantially impact all sectors of the orthopedic industry. We have sought our first approval within cranial implants because the need was most compelling; however, this is just the beginning. We will now move systematically throughout the body in an effort to deliver improved outcomes at lower overall cost to the patient and healthcare provider."
The revolutionary potentials of 3D printing technology are gradually unfolding as new applications of the technology hit the headlines every week. Digital Journal recently reported that a US company Kor Ecologic, created the Urbee 2, a car that gives maximum mileage per gallon based on the principle of lightweight construction using 3-D printing technology.
Digital Journal's Paul Wallis, commenting on the far-reaching potentials of the new technology, enthused:
"It could be the beginning of the solution of major surgical issues which have plagued medicine since modern surgery first began, 500 years ago. The possibilities for cosmetic surgery alone could easily fill a medical dictionary. A lot of reconstructive surgeons will be dancing in the streets with this. Nearly a century of sheer hard labor on things like war wounds will finally get the degree of technical capacity it needs."
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