London: Surgeons in the UK are using cutting-edge 3D printing technology to reconstruct the severely injured face of a road accident victim.
The groundbreaking work, led by Swansea’s Morriston Hospital surgeon Adrian Sugar, is being done on a man whose face was crushed in a motorbike accident.
Sugar and his team have used images from a CT scan to design bespoke devices that are being created in titanium using 3D printing.
“The patient suffered trauma and had multiple injuries across his body, including some quite severe facial injuries,” Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board (ABMU)’s Maxill-ofacial Laboratory Services Manager, reconstructive scientist Peter Evans, said.
“He underwent emergency surgery at the time and we are now at the stage where we can do a proper reconstruction of his face,” said Evans.
Dr Sugar and Evans worked with National Centre for Product Design and Development Research (PDR)’s Sean Peel and Ffion O’Malley to virtually plan the complex surgery, which will involve repositioning the patient’s facial bones.
They worked from a CT scan that allowed them to create a mirror image of the unaffected side of the patient’s face.
From this they designed guides to cut and position the bones with pinpoint accuracy, as well as implants tailor-made for the patient.
The guides and implants are being produced in medical-grade titanium in Belgium, at one of the world’s few specialist 3D printing facilities.
“We have done everything up the point of surgery. The concept of the operation has been virtually designed and we hope to do the work very soon,” Evans said.
“The patient’s facial symmetry will be restored and so he should be back to normal as far as his facial looks are concerned,” Evans added.