Surgeons at a Dutch university hospital replaced cranium with a plastic dome to prevent patient’s death.
Surgeons at UMC Utrecht have successfully replaced a young woman’s cranium with a 3D-printed skull.
The woman required the operation because her skull was growing in thickness and causing damage to her brain. The thickening of the skull increased pressure on her brain and affected her eyesight and coordination.
The medical team, led by neurosurgeon Dr. Bon Verweij, replaced her skull with a plastic one that was manufactured by a specialist Australian company.
The operation took 23 hours and was a world’s first, according to UMC Utrecht. According to Verweij, skull implants have been performed before, but it was the first time that a whole cranium was replaced with a plastic skull. In a report, Verweij explained that implants used to be made by hand using a cement-like material that was “far from ideal” and 3D printing technology allowed them to create a skull implant in the exact size they needed. He also added that patients’ brain function often recovers better than when the old method was used.
The procedure took place three months ago and the woman is currently symptom-free and already going back to work.
The successful operation is yet another example of the huge impact that 3D printing technology is making in the medical and health industries.
Advancements in 3D printing technology are not only making implants and prosthetics easier to create, cheaper and more accessible to those who need them, but they are also enabling doctors to create them to the exact size and specifications for each patient. Combined with advancements in medical technology, 3D-printing allows doctors to design parts down to the cellular level – lowering the risk of the patient’s body rejecting them.
Watch the clip from UMC Utrecht below for more about the 3D-printed skull replacement.