3D Printer Aides Surgeons in Reconstruction of Motorcyclist's Mangled Face
A man living in the United Kingdom was the beneficiary of new technology that gave him a chance to live life normally after surviving a horrific motorcycle crash. Thanks to new technologies, plastic surgeons were able to rebuild the man's face in a remarkable display of imagination, skill, and a willingness to do what is necessary to help a man who desperately needed it.
Steven Power lives in Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom. In 2012, he suffered extensive severe injuries in a motorcycle accident. As a result of the crash, Power suffered a horribly broken leg that required a bone graft to repair. Power also has two broken arms and several broken bones in his face. Among the bones in his head fractured in the motorcycle accident were his skull, jawbone, broken cheekbones, and broken eye sockets. Power endured many plastic surgeries to help reconstruct his head and face, but surgeons expressed reluctance to do too much out of fear that he could lose an eye or damage his eyesight more extensively.
Power, certainly happy to have survived the accident, nevertheless would hide his face from public view. He would conceal his hideous scars and injuries with hats, sunglasses, and other adornments. But, Power was also lucky to have a team of plastic surgeons who refused to give up hope. Together with a team of design and research experts from a local university, Power's plastic surgeons developed a plan to rebuild his broken and disfigured visage.
The process was slow and deliberate. It had to be because reconstructive surgery of the face near the eye is incredibly complex and risky. Consequently, the team made 3D models of the right side of Power's face and then made a mirror image. The surgeons and researchers made a model of the left side of Power's face based upon the mirror image developed from the right.
Surgeons planned out the surgery on the computer models. Without prior planning allowed by using the computer models, reconstructive surgery is performed on feel. Planning out the surgery allowed the surgeons to be more precise and plan out exactly where the implants needed to be inserted. Planning, the doctors believed, helped lead to a better result for the patient.
Once the surgeons planned out the procedure, they were able to determine how the implants should precisely fit. They used a 3D printer to create implants and guides based on the models using medical-grade titanium. Doctors inserted the implants and screws during an 8-hour long surgical procedure.
Doctors were pleased with the result. The lead surgeon explained that using 3D models and a 3D printer to create the implants for Powers was a first for them even if the entire process took several months from beginning to end. Powers was pleased with the results and was thankful for the efforts his surgical team made on his behalf.
People who suffer catastrophic injuries like Steven Powers did often face a long road to recovery. But Powers was very lucky. Most people who suffer devastating injuries do not have the benefit of such innovative surgeons, usually because 3D technologies are not readily available to repair their injuries. However, progress is being made. As a result of the innovation of Power's doctors, use of 3D printing has expanded to printing 3D airways, jaws, hips, ears, and prosthetic devices.
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