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3D printed jaw gives woman a new lease of life

3D printing has given an elderly woman a new jaw in what doctors say is the first operation of its kind.

3D printing has given an elderly woman a new jaw in what doctors say is the first operation of its kind.

News has emerged that last June an 83-year-old woman successfully underwent surgery for a jaw transplant, using a prosthetic jaw made by a 3D printer.

The Belgian patient had a serious infection that rapidly ate away her jaw.

Classical treatment dictated removal of the damaged bone, but this would have left her with only a small, non-functioning mandible, or alternatively, complex surgical reconstruction involving a long operation and hospital stay.

Scientists at the University of Hasselt developed a custom implant using 3D printing of titanium powder in cooperation with engineers from Xios University College. The entire process was executed digitally in a matter of hours, and the 107-gram prosthetic jaw was just a little heavier than a natural one.

“Computer technology will cause a veritable revolution in the medical world. We just need to learn to work with it,” said Professor Jules Poukens.

“Doctors and engineers together around the design computer and the operation table: that’s what we call being truly innovative.”

According to Xilloc Medical, which created the jaw, the patient regained normal functions including speech and swallowing after one day.

This partnership was awarded the grant of best innovation in the field of 3D printing at the RapidPro conference last week.