This week saw the first successful fully 3D-printed jaw implant. The piece was developed by the Dutch company Mobius 3D Technology (M3DT), and the researchers responsible are linked to the Netherlands Cancer Institute.
The titanium piece was completely reconstructed based on the MRI and 3D CT scans of the patient, who had been diagnosed with head and neck cancer.
Tumors in and around the jaw are often treated by removing some of the bone. The jaw is reconstructed, if possible, with bone from other parts of the body, such as ribs. However, the researchers behind this new implant point out that this traditional method of reconstruction is fraught with disadvantages.
When using only metal plates, the parts can break and the screws with which the plate is fixed can come loose, which has serious consequences for the patient. The new 3D printed jaw fit perfectly, as it has the shape and weight of the original jaw, and is much stronger than the plates used today.
The creators explain that the implant is much stronger, in part because the forces are optimally distributed with an improved fixation technique. The technology also has a so-called interior structure that maintains its resistance, while being light for the patient.
As the implant is custom-made, the mandible maintains its fit and pressure on the mucosa is more evenly distributed. “We hope that this will reduce complications and improve the functional and aesthetic result. Even the tools that the surgeon uses in the operation are specific to the patient. The operation is also simpler and shorter”, say the responsible researchers.
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