Is 3D Printing The Future Of Transplants?
3D Printing made it possible for a 22 year old woman from the Netherlands to survive. This young lady had headaches and was slowly losing her eye sight due to her skull thickening from 1.5cm to 5 cm. Needing to do something to keep the essential brain functions working properly, she underwent a 23 hour procedure to remove the cranium and replace it with the new 3D printed version. The operation was completed by neurosurgeons at the University Medical Centre Utrecht and is the first successful 3D printed skull of this magnitude that has not been rejected by the patient.
Usually what happens in brain swelling cases is during the surgery; part of the skull is taken out to allow for the pressure to decrease and then is put back at a later date or a cement replica is created. While the cement replica is usually a close fit, it’s not a perfect fit, and sometimes it is not the most aesthetically pleasing for the patient. These 3D replicas are an exact fit and in this case and others, where a smaller plastic piece has been created, patients tend to hardly notice a change in skull shape. Research is also showing that the brain recovers better using the 3D plastic models, than its alternatives.
Thanks to the advance of 3D printing, this young lady from the Netherlands is symptom free, has her full vision back and is back to work. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for 3D printing and medicine.