3D-printed skull saves patient's life

2016 04 20 13 18 33 612 3 D Printer Word Ball 200

Surgeons in South Korea used data from CT scans to create a 3D-printed skull made of titanium and implant it in a patient just in time to save her life, according to an article on 3Dprint.com.

A rapidly evolving series of events left the 60-year-old woman clinging to life at Chung-Ang University Hospital in Seoul after doctors tried to stop the bleeding from a subarachnoid hemorrhage, the website reported.

Professors Kwon Jeong-tek and Lee Mu-yeol from the hospital's neurosurgery department used a head CT to create a model of the patient's skull so that it could be printed and implanted in the patient.

Synthetic implants and plates have long been used to replace portions of patients' skulls, but the technology has always been imperfect, Kwon told the website. Cement is heavy and difficult to model, while the titanium used to print the skull is strong, lightweight, and can be designed to fit the patient perfectly.

The woman went to the hospital after developing a sudden headache, and a CT scan performed on admission showed that she had a subarachnoid brain hemorrhage, the surgeons said in the article. The doctors blocked the blood supply to parts of the brain to prevent further bleeding, and removed part of the skull to relieve pressure caused by brain swelling. But at that point her brain collapsed in the area where the skull had been removed, necessitating a skull transplant.

For help, the hospital surgical team approached the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology in Gangwon, which used the CT data to print a 3D skull in pure titanium. The implant fit perfectly and the operation was concluded successfully, the study team reported.

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