Medical & Dental

Robot used in Chinese 3D printed dental implant surgery

Two 3D printed dental implants have been autonomously placed in the mouth of a volunteer patient by the world’s first autonomous surgical robot.

The hour-long procedure, supervised by surgeons from the Fourth Military Medical Institute took place in Xi’an, central China, and used a robot jointly developed by the hospital and the robotics department at Beijing’s Beihang University.

Robotics the means, 3D printing the end

3D printed, biocompatible implants are commercially available in China, with procedures becoming increasingly efficient and affordable. The Open Biomedical Initiative reported in 2015 that China’s Guangzhou Nansha Additive Manufacturing Technology Research Institute had invented a method of efficiently SLA printing implants and bridges. Since then, SLA printing has come a long way with the refinement of resins.

The robot gets to work. Photo via Youtube/CCTV+.

However, China’s problem is not the availability of 3D printed dental implants, but its status 
as a region majorly lacking in professional dental surgeons. As a result, it is burdened with a waiting list of hundreds of millions of patients, and blighted by low-quality treatments from unqualified practitioners.

A successful autonomous process

Prof. Yimin Zhao, a surgeon at the Fourth Military Medical Institute explained that firstly a CT scan was taken of the patient to acquire all the data of the patient’s skull and jaw, before the data was stored in “a special marking system” to allow the robot arm to “identify the corresponding location precisely” and perform the surgery through.

The robot is closely supervised as it carries out the procedure. Photo via South China Morning Post.

Prior to the robot’s autonomous mechanical space fusioning positioning procedure, it was manually orientated towards the correct position for treating a patient. The procedure was developed with a view to being combined with 3D printed component.

Robot surgeons, 3D printed parts

In addition to 3D printing biological tissue, scientists at ETH Zurich have also printed temporary organs out of silicone.

With the immediate success of this operation, it may the case that more trial robot surgeries may be performed, before the process is used in mainstream treatments.

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Our featured image shows surgeons monitoring scans and positioning the robot in preparation for surgery. Photo via Youtube/CCTV+.