A medical dilemma has inspired a world-first achievement.
Researchers have used a 3D printer to create a customized jawbone for an 83-year-old woman.
The procedure is a world-first.
A day after surgery, the patient was able to speak and swallow normally again.
When surgeons replaced the infected lower jawbone of an 83-year-old woman, they needed a fast replacement tailored to fit the patient's existing bone structure, nerves and muscles. That medical dilemma inspired a world-first achievement -- creating a customized jawbone from scratch with 3D printing technology.
The "printing" process used a laser to heat and melt metal powder in the shape of the jawbone. That process, carried out by Belgian manufacturer LayerWise, allowed the 3D printer to sculpt and build up the patient's medical implant layer by layer. A bioceramic coating ensured that the patient's body would not reject the implant.
"The new treatment method is a world premiere because it concerns the first patient-specific implant in replacement of the entire lower jaw," said Jules Poukens, a surgeon at the University Hasselt in Belgium.