In 2007, medical DT3D representatives aided in the skull reconstruction of a 12-year-old boy who had been gravely injured in an accident. The challenge was not only to rebuild part of the cranium but to allow for the child’s continued growth. DT3D researcher Peter Yoshito Noritomi explained, “If we used a conventional prosthesis in this cranioplasty, the device could be rejected because of the growth of the boy’s head; another risk would be the deformation of the skull.”
A solution was found for this complex case using prototypes from a Stratasys 3D Printer. “The Stratasys 3D Printer allowed us to work with hard and resistant materials, which helped us to create models to be copied. These models would be the basis of the actual biocompatible prosthesis that would be inserted in the boy’s head during the surgery,” says Noritomi. “Instead of a single prosthesis, we created a device in which each of the four parts was superimposed on the other, capable of sliding smoothly along with the patient’s growth process; with this, the dimensions of the prosthesis would increase together with the space inside the skull.”
Brazil’s federally funded research institute CTI Renato Archer, located in Campinas, Sao Paolo, has a branch specifically dedicated to 3D technology. More than 30 doctors, teachers and other specialists in 3D technology work in this division, known as “DT3D,” and pass along their findings and expertise to hundreds of partners working in hospitals, businesses and other research facilities throughout Latin America. CTI Renato Archer has both FDM and PolyJet-based 3D Printers from Stratasys on site which are used for research in medicine, energy exploration, manufacturing and more.
One of the innovations developed in conjunction with the DT3D team at CTI Renato Archer is InVesalius software, which “translates” 2D images (from computed tomography or magnetic resonance equipment) into 3D reconstruction files that are ready for 3D printing. InVesalius, which is free for download and open-source, is now used in medical facilities in about 80 countries.
The surgery planning, on the other hand, was based on other models, developed with the Objet350 Connex multi-material 3D Printer
. The models of the cranium produced on the Objet Connex 3D Printer at Renato Archer were especially prized because of their pinpoint accuracy. “The Objet Connex 3D Printer can generate layers of two hundredths of a millimeter,” Noritomi said.
Thanks to this innovative prosthesis, prototyped with FDM 3D printing technology, the life of the youngster was saved; he is now 18 and fully recovered from his injury.
Helping physicians and medical researchers to do their most creative and innovative work is one of the greatest benefits of 3D printing!