What did we tell you? 3D printing is going to be big; didn’t we say that over and over again? Today’s article is about how 3D printing is changing the world and lives of people.
Meet Stephen Power who is from Cardiff and is a survivor of a bike accident which led him into a place where all of us wouldn’t want to go. Mr. Stephen is a big fan of 3D printing after 3D printing was used in surgery to reconstruct his face. He is the first patient to have been transplanted with 3D printed parts during the procedure.
At the hospital, the operation which Mr. Power describes as ‘Life-Changing’, doctors had to completely break his cheekbones before his face reconstruction began. The hospital where this procedure was carried out is Morriston Hospital located in Swansea. Hence, United Kingdom has already become the pioneer in use of 3D printing technology in surgery.
Although this idea of making use of 3D printed implants isn’t very new, however, this particular operation was performed literally months after the accident and made use of custom printed guides, plates, models and implants. Although we might argue that Mr. Power was being reckless but the truth being told, he was wearing a crash helmet and yet managed to receive a number of trauma injuries and landed in hospital for about 4 months. According to Mr. Power; ‘I broke cheekbones, top jaw, my nose and fractured my skull. I can’t remember the accident – I remember five minutes before and then waking up in the hospital a few months later.’
As expected; Mr. Power was photographed before the operation and then after the surgery, which has been successful. By making use of CT scans, the team was able to create a 3D symmetrical model of Mr. Power’s skull which was then followed by employing cutting guides and plates that were printed. According to Adrian Sugar, Maxillofacial surgeon, ‘I think it’s incomparable – the results are in a different league from anything we’ve done before. What this does is it allows us to be much more precise. Everybody now is starting to think in this way – guesswork is not good enough.’
The procedure lasted for about 8 hours where the first team also had to go the through the process of breaking the existing cheekbones so that they could be remodeled. Mr. Power said; ‘It is totally life-changing. I could see the difference straightaway the day I woke up from the surgery. I’m hoping I won’t have to disguise myself – I won’t have to hide away. I’ll be able to do day-to-day things, go and see people, walk in the street, even go to any public areas.’
This project comes from Center for Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery (CARTIS) which in turn is a collaborative effort by the team in Swansea and scientists at Cardiff Metropolitan University. As per Sean Peel, design Engineer; ‘It tends to be used for individual really complicated cases as it stands, in quite a convoluted, long-winded design process. The next victory will be to get this process and technique used more widely as the costs fall and as the design tools improve.’
Watch this video for more on this groundbreaking surgery