3D printed cranial implants are not new, and the approval process has been a long one. Back in 2013 a cranial implant made news when the FDA approved the surgery on a US patient with an opaque material, and another was achieved using transparent resin on a Dutch patient. But this application of 3D printing is easily one of the most amazing — and one that makes a huge difference to people’s lives. Now a new case has emerged of the first cranial prosthesis 3D printed in Trabecular Titanium and implanted in a patient in Argentina.
The speed at which every nation in the world is adopting 3D printing technologies at various levels never ceases to amaze me and the best part is that progress is non-linear. While one nation may be the first to implement a new technology, others – all over the world – will follow and improve it.
The surgery was performed by neurosurgeon Dr. Raul Santivañez at the Sanatorio de la Trinidad in Quilmes City, Buenos Aires, one of Argentina’s and the World’s top health centers. Dr. Santivañez implanted the custom-designed 3D printed prosthesis in a patient who had a very large and dangerous defect in his skull structure.
The implanted part was developed by NOVAX DMA, a South American company leader in the developmental design and manufacturing of medical implants. NOVAX has been working with additive manufacturing technologies for the last ten years and was able to use its experience to 3D print the prosthesis using the Trabecular Titanium system, an innovative multi-planar structure based on hexagonal cells that resembles the porous structure of the trabecular bone.
Trabecular Titanium systems are built using the SLS 3D printing process by EOS and facilitate the growth of the bone “into” the implant. The size of the implant used in this surgery was 125 mm x 100 mm but it is only the beginning for NOVAX: the company will commercially launch a new line of 3D printed spinal implants in Trabecular Titanium by the end of this year. And the revolution will continue.