3D-printing technology being used in medical reconstruction

kakissel/via Flickr
March 13, 2013

3D printing has received a lot of attention recently, with the technology now also being applied in medicine. In a recent procedure, a man had 75 percent of his skull replaced by a 3D-printed implant.

Chief of Neurosurgery at Highland Hospital, Dr. Jason Huang says 3D-printed implants have the potential to more accurately reconstruct a patient's face or skull, greatly aiding their psychological recovery.

"I think this kind of technology can be very helpful," he says. "For us it has it has a better cosmetic effect in repairing a skull defect."

Dr. Huang says he can see this technology being useful in several different applications, including facial reconstruction and spinal trauma.

The company that created the implant, Oxford Performance Materials, claims there are around 500 people each month in the United States who could benefit from the technology.

The 3D implants can now be used to replace damaged bone after being given FDA approval late last month and can be produced within two weeks of the 3D scan.

The implant is made from a special thermo-plastic that has tiny surface details that encourage the growth of cells and bone.