3D printing, medicine, skull, china, implant, plastic, titaniumMedical science creates endless opportunities to explore the boundaries of 3D printing. Recently, at the Xi'an Jiaotong University hospital, doctors repaired a large portion of a patient's skull with a 3D printed implant.

Created from a biocompatible thermoplastic, polyetherketoneketone (PEKK), the cranial implant was based on a CAT scan of the patient's head. In the surgery doctors Wang Mao De and Chen Wei were able to accurately match and replace a severely fractured piece of the patient's skull.

Due to the implant material’s properties, the replaced portion of the skull will be resistant to corrosion, a common problem among titanium implants.

In addition to being non-corrosive, 3-D printing also allows physicians to carefully craft replacement bones that directly match the sockets and joints with which they'll fit.

In the past few months 3D printing has been used to create jawbones, spinal discs and vertebrae, and biological building materials. As the field continues to grow, more bio-compatible materials will be available to physicians.  Expect to see complex procedures like organ replacement and reconstruction surgery making heavy use of 3D printed parts.

Image Courtesy Oxford Performance Materials

 

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