3D Printing Used for Skull Implant

Technology plays a vital role in developing new methods of treatment for many different conditions. However, did you know that 3D printing can actually be used in the development of implants? Specifically, this technology was used just this year to replace a man’s skull.

Oxford Performance Materials  was charged with creating the implant to be placed in an American patient. The surgery that resulted actually replaced 75% of the man’s skull. The implant itself is called the OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device or OPSCD and was made out of polyetherketoneketone thermoplastic. The material itself is not rejected by the human body and won’t even interfere with future x-rays.

The procedure went something like this: the man’s skull was scanned then the implant was made using 3D printing designed to his exact measurements and the specifications determined by the scan. The printer used was an EOS P800 laser sintering 3D printer and it created the implant by putting down the material one layer at a time. This allowed for the finest details to be maintained, which improved the likelihood that the implant would be accepted by the surrounding bone and tissue.

After the man underwent scans, he received the implant within two week’s time. This is truly significant and points to a future where bone implants can be designed and printed on the spot. There’ll be no more need for one-size-fits-all implantation when they can be custom-tailored to each and every patient.

Scott DeFelice, CEO of Oxford Performance Materials is confident that this technology will completely change the orthopedic industry in the coming years. In fact, he predicted that up to 500 patients will undergo these skull replacement procedures a month in the U.S. Plus, he envisions the technology being utilized for other bone replacements as well.

This news falls right in line with a development that came from a company called LayerWise last year. They used 3D printing to create and manufacture a titanium jaw replacement. These efforts are just the latest in a continuing trend toward the utilization of scanning and printing technologies to create body part replacements. This is truly revolutionary and points to a future where just about any body part can be replaced thanks to a bit of ingenuity, technology, and a willingness to try something new. Companies like OsteoFab are destined to be at the forefront of the endeavor.

Picture credit: Oxford Performance Materials

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