Devices & Diagnostics

Man who lost half his face to cancer can eat and speak again thanks to 3D implant

One of the most compelling things about the promising technological innovations from 3-D printing is its relevance in so many parts of healthcare, particularly regenerative medicine.  Whether it’s to reproduce organs, bone, appendages — it can provide the framework to make this process faster and easier. Underlining the confidence in this technology, Luxe Research estimates […]

One of the most compelling things about the promising technological innovations from 3-D printing is its relevance in so many parts of healthcare, particularly regenerative medicine.  Whether it’s to reproduce organs, bone, appendages — it can provide the framework to make this process faster and easier. Underlining the confidence in this technology, Luxe Research estimates market demand will push its value from $777 million to $8.4 billion by 2025. Here are a few of the most exciting applications.

Facial reconstruction 3D printing figured into an episode of British reality TV show called Embarrassing Bodies, aired earlier this year. The removal of a tennis ball-sized tumor resulting from squamous cell carcinoma left a big gap in one side of Eric Moger’s face.  It meant that he was neither able to eat or drink without a feeding tube nor speak properly. Dental surgeon Andrew Dawood used digital software to create a model of the right side of his face unaffected by the tumor.

A 3D printer produced a a nylon mold of this mirror image of the undamaged side of the face in multiple layers. They used the mold to create a silicone prosthesis. By separating his mouth from void left by the tumor, he can eat and drink normally and speak without having to hold his face. Although the implant is removable at night, it is supported by titanium scaffolding that is held in place by screws in his eyebrow and in his other cheek bone, according to Dawood in an interview with British newspaper MailOnline. Magnets help secure the silicon mask in place.

Kidneys With the waiting list for kidneys at nearly 100,000, any technology that can address this pain point is worth hearing about. Researchers at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China have made a first step in creating small versions of kidneys using 3d printing technology.Samples of human kidney cells were cultured in large volumes and blended with hydrogel, a water- and nutrition-rich material that makes up the foundation of 3D printed kidneys. The printed cells have a lifespan of four months in a lab setting, according to an article by Gizmodo. According to the article the miniature kidneys have been able to break down toxins, metabolize, and secrete fluid.

Skull implants Oxford Performance got clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device earlier this year. It is designed to replace bone damaged by disease or trauma. The skulls are made with a high performance polymer used in biomedical implants because it is biocompatible and mechanically similar to bone. They’re produced layer by layer directly from a digital CAD file. The makers also see other applications in the orthopedics sector.

A new way to heal broken bones Victoria University graduate Jake Evill created an innovative brace prototype with a homemade 3-D printer and nylon plastic. Patients being fitted for these braces would have an X-ray taken and then a scan of the injured arm or leg. A computer would assess the optimal pattern and structure for the cast. Its honeycomb design was inspired by the trabecular, a structure that forms the inner tissue of a bone.

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