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3D printing can be used to create inexpensive and on the fly customizable prosthetics making the process easier
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Scientists 3D Print Life-Size Models of Patient’s Heads

3D printing as well as computed tomography (CT) can used to create life-size models of patient’s heads. Scientist print out these face models in order to guide their personnel during face transplantation surgeries.

The patients undergo preoperative CT with 3D visualization. They processed and segmented the CT images using customized software and created special data files for a 3D printer. The procedure of a face transplant lasts about 25 hours, but the vascular connections from the donor face to the recipient takes just one hour, and during that time the patient’s blood flow needs to be stopped

Dr. Frank Rybicki from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in the US said, “ the best way of planning the procedure is by using the model and holding the skull in your hand. In some patients, we need to modify the recipient’s facial bones prior to transplantation. The 3D printed model helps us to prepare the facial structures so when the actual transplantation occurs, the surgery goes more smoothly.”

The models increased the surgeon’s understanding of the autonomy of the patient’s face, said the researchers. Since 2011, the hospital has completed five face transplants. Involved surgeons and radiologists said the procedure reduced total procedure time. And based on this study, 3D printing technology has now routinely been used for surgical planning for face transplantation procedures at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. 3D printed models may be implemented in other complex surgeries as well.

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