A researcher at Indiana University developed a new method and created a 3D printed jaw that was given to a cancer survivor.
Scientists at Indiana University are testing a new process that could be faster and more flexible than traditional prosthetic sculpting methods. 3D modeling and printing were used to produce lifelike facial prosthetics.
The first patient tested for the method is Shirley Anderson, who was first diagnosed with cancer on his tongue in 1998. Anderson’s adam’s apple and jaw were damaged by radiation treatments and multiple attempts at reconstructive surgery failed. For years, Anderson wore a surgical mask in public to conceal his badly scarred face.
Dr. Travis Bellicchi began working with Anderson who is a maxillofacial prosthodontics resident at the IU school of dentistry. The procedure on Anderson’s face was digitally scanned and a digital sculpting software called Zbrush was used to model a prosthetic jaw. Zbrush created the narrow feathered edges of the prosthetic, which help it sit flush with a patient’s own skin, making it much more lifelike.
The molds based on the sculpt were printed using a Formlabs desktop 3D printer.
3D printing technology quickly gain ground in prosthetics, from hands to legs, that all of which require degrees of customization that are difficult and expensive to achieve by other means. But facial prosthetics are very labor intensive and requires meticulous hand-sculpting for each patient.
Researchers took just six weeks to produce Anderson’s prosthesis which is much faster than traditional methods. According to them, six other patients have already benefited from the process that has been dubbed as the Shirley Technique.