3D Printed Titanium Skull: A Game Changer

3D Printed Skull

The impact 3D printing has created on various sectors is quite a visible fact, but there is one industry that has benefited the most of this technology- The Healthcare Industry. Right from the printing of human tissues to prosthetics, 3D printing has proved to be a Good Samaritan. This time this technology has come forward to help those who face dangers of work place hazards every single day. Every year thousands of people working in the construction industry, military or fire departments get injured. Some face problems that have no cure while others face minor accidents that they can survive with like physical abnormalities.

In this article we shall talk about a man who met with an accident and how 3DP technology is helping him to live life like he had before the accident. This incident happened in China. A man named Hu who was a construction worker was working on the site when suddenly he fell off from a 3 storied building. He severely injured his head, skull and also the brain. When taken to a hospital a large part of his skull and brain was removed, this left his head looking quite disfigured. He lost almost 14cm x 9cm of his skull. Since the brain is the motherboard of a human body a severe damage in this organ resulted in vision loss in his right eye along with the inability to write or speak. Although his hearing and walking abilities are intact, Hu desperately wanted his old life back.

Doctors at the Xijing Hosptal in Xi’an after going through his case concluded that Hu was suffering from skull defects, traumatic aphasia, limited motor function, vision loss, and traumatic aphasia. He was also having double vision which is also referred to as diplopic. The doctors decided to take care of this problem with the help of 3DP technology. They decided to 3D print a titanium mesh which would cover the damaged part of the skull so that the shape of the skull looks like it was before.

Usually a surgery like this would cost a fortune but in Hu’s case the surgery is free of cost. The hospital is taking care of the surgery cost and an American company named Stryker is taking care of the 3D printing and material needed for the titanium mesh. The doctors chose titanium to recreate the defected part of the skull because titanium adjusts quite well with the body’s immune system. A surgery of such genre involves a lot of risk and one of these risks is that when the doctors remove the skull they have to be very careful so that none of the protective membranes as well as the brain is damaged.

As far as the after effects of this surgery are concerned the doctors are positive that Hu would regain his old face and as far as the empty space in the brain is concerned the doctors believe that the brain will gradually regenerate itself into that empty space.

3DP technology has played a pivotal role in this case. Because of this technology doctors were able to 3D scan the right side of his head and recreate the titanium mesh for the left side of his head. This helped create a perfect symmetrical shape.

3D printing is not just another technology anymore it is touching our lives in many ways.

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