Doctors in Dubai have successfully completed a series of surgeries on a young male patient to reform his facial deformities using 3D printed titanium implants.
Claimed as a one-of-its-kind case in the world by the medical team, the surgery completely reconstructed the patient’s facial bones, which had been severely damaged from several benign tumors.
The surgery was led by specialist maxillofacial surgeon Professor Dr Jehad Al Sukhun of the Emirates Hospital, who told Periodical Today: “We have for the first time utilized 3D printing technology to design 3D titanium facial implants to rebuild the defect of the facial bones.
“The patient healed well with an amazing aesthetic outcome. We live in a new era now.”
3D printed titanium implants
For some time, additive manufacturing has been leveraged for the fabrication of anatomical models to aid surgeons during complex operations and for training purposes, as well as for the production of customized surgical guides to enhance surgical outcomes.
Now, the technology is being deployed to create biocompatible, patient-specific implants capable of facilitating bone cell growth and repairing structural deformities. In fact, a recent study undertaken by a Korean research group verified the effectiveness and safety of patient-specific 3D printed titanium implants on maxillofacial bones. Of the 28 implants fitted, only one failed to unite successfully with the bone, while the others proved “satisfactory” in their treatment of various oral and maxillofacial defects.
Meanwhile, in December Health Canada approved its first Canadian-made 3D printed medical implant, a customizable titanium mandibular plate for use in facial reconstruction surgery, while February saw India’s Manipal Hospitals use a 3D printed titanium implant to reconstruct a patient’s entire chest bone and ribs, meaning he would no longer be dependent on medical ventilation for the rest of his life.
Fixing facial deformities
The Emirates Hospital surgical team was faced with a significant challenge in treating their patient’s facial deformities. The 20-year-old was suffering from multiple benign tumors that had damaged his facial bones and left him unable to breathe, speak, and eat normally.
The team began a series of investigations involving CT and MRI scans, and histopathology biopsies, to assess the best way to treat the patient. After collecting all the information they needed, the team carried out a series of surgeries to extract the tumors and reconstruct the patient’s facial bones.
In what the team claims is a one-of-its-kind case worldwide, the surgeons 3D printed a number of customized titanium implants to reconstruct the patient’s facial bones once the tumors had been removed.
Opting for the implants meant the patient did not have to undergo multiple soft and hard microvascular grafts from his abdomen and legs to reconstruct his facial bones, which would have had a serious effect on his quality of life.
The team chose the approach off the back of several successful reconstructive surgeries involving 3D printed implants that have been recently reported. According to Sukhun, the patient in question healed well with an “amazing” aesthetic outcome unachievable by alternative means, like skin and bone grafts.
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Featured image shows Dr Jehad Al Sukhun, specialist oral and maxillofacial surgeon at Emirates Hosptial. Photo via Emirates Hospital.