(LONDON) -- In what has been called the first operation of its kind, an 83-year-old woman in the Netherlands has been fitted with a custom-made artificial jaw that was created by a 3D printer.
The titanium implant, which weighs less than 4 ounces, was created by taking a CT scan of the woman’s lower jaw and duplicating it with a 3D printer that lays down titanium powder instead of ink. The printer followed the pattern of the woman’s jaw bone layer by layer, fusing the titanium powder in place with heat. In just a couple of hours, the 3D replica was ready.
The woman, who has not been named, reportedly suffered a serious jaw infection that made reconstruction surgery too risky. The creation of the artificial jaw and the surgery to implant it are considered a major step forward for the use of 3D technology in medicine.
Just one day after the surgery, which took place in June 2011, the woman could move her jaw and speak, according to Xilloc, the company that made the implant. Xilloc, Layerwise and BIOMED were jointly awarded the grant of best innovation in the field of 3D printing at last week’s RapidPro conference in Veldhoven, Netherlands.
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