Research conducted by the Biomedical Research Institute of the Belgium Hasselt University has lead to the creation of a titanium 3D printing implant made from powder-heated titanium and fused together, each individual layer at a time, by a laser. Based in the same country, the specialized metal-parts manufacturer, LayerWise, built the implant.
An 83 year old woman needing a teeth operation, was the lucky patient who had the 3D printer-created lower jaw implant fitted in June in the Netherlands. Doctors have said that this was the first operation of this kind. Despite the cosmetic surgery dental transplant being performed some time ago it is only now being publicized.
The technicians of the implant say that the success of this transplant will open the doors to greater use of the 3D printed patient specific parts. The elderly patient suffered from a chronic bone infection that was so severe doctors believed reconstructive cosmetic surgery was too risky an option for her. Instead the doctors opted to use this new technology. The implant itself is a very complex piece of equipment involving cavities to promote muscle attachment, grooves that direct nerve and vein regrowth, as well as articulated joints. Amazingly, once the implant was designed, it took only a few hours to be printed.
LayerWise’s medical application engineer, Mr Ruben Wauthle told the BCC that once the 3D design was received the part was split into 2D layers and then those cross sections were put through the printing machine, and a laser beam was used to melt the layers of titanium powder together to form the implant. A 1mm height took 33 layers to build, meaning there were thousands of layers required to build the jawbone.
Upon completion, a bio-ceramic coating was adhered to the implant. The surgery to implant the new jaw for the patient took a mere four hours to complete, as opposed to traditional surgery that may have taken up to five times longer.
Dr Jules Poukens of Hasselt University led the surgical team and told media that shortly after waking from the surgery the patient was able to speak a few words and the following day was able to swallow again. He said the treatment was a world premiere of a patient specific implant that replaced the entire lower jaw.
The patient was discharged for home only after four days indicating a swift recovery. Although the jaw itself weighed over a third heavier at 107g than her natural jaw, the doctors believe that she will easily get used to the extra weight.
Further surgery will be required later in the month, in the form of a follow-up to remove the healing implants that were inserted into holes built into the surface of the implant. A dental bridge especially made for this patient will be attached to the implant which will allow false teeth dentures to be screwed into the implant. adsense ban buy expiring domains The surgical team expects similar implant techniques will become more common within future years.
Mr Wauthle stated that advantages of these types of implants which are patient specific are the decrease in surgery time as well as the length of hospitalization required, which in turn reduce the medical costs. The technology allows the doctors to build parts that can’t be created using other technology. An example of this is that a porous titanium structure could be printed to allow bone in-growth and better fixation of the implant leading to a longer lifespan of the part.
LayerWise is of the belief that their 3D printing technique, which follows a separate research project conducted last year by Washington State University where engineers demonstrated the way in which 3D printer created ceramic scaffolds may promote new bone tissue growth, are just a glimpse of the potential 3D printing has for medical use. Successful experiments on animals suggest that it will only be a couple of decades away where these techniques may by used in humans.