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Our hospital successfully completes the world's first case of skull repairing surgery with 3D-printed technology

Updated: Apr 26, 2021
Edited by: Liu Huiting

Recently, the team led by Professor Wang Maode from Department of Neurosurgery of the First Affiliated Hospital of Xi 'an Jiaotong University (XJTU) successfully completed the world's first case of skull reconstruction surgery by using a customized PEEK 3D-printed skull implant.

A 27-year-old male patient, surnamed Wang, suffered from skull injury and remained stable after surgical intervention. He should also undergo artificial skull implantation to prevent cerebrospinal fluid leakage, protect brain tissues and achieve aesthetic effect.

After comprehensive examinations, team led by Wang Maode carried out 3D reconstruction of CT images through imaging software, and separated, refined and printed the skull defect area of the skull model. The team closely cooperated with Xi 'an KONTOUR MEDICA Co., Ltd. in research and development, and obtained the 3D-printed test model of original skull defect area, making surgeons have a more explicit and accurate assessment on clinical implants and fixation methods.

As Wang Maode introduced, skull repairing surgery is a relatively common procedure. The new material used in this surgery is a type of polymer material, which more resembles the skull in texture and has lower thermal conductivity. Because of its polymer structure, it can avoid the trouble of conventional titanium mesh in security check and provide convenience for daily life and physical examination.

After careful arrangement for 1 week, the team led by Wang Maode from our hospital accomplished the skull repairing procedure for more than 1 h. The surgical procedures mainly consisted of scalp separation, cerebrospinal fluid drainage, meningeal lifting, skull fixation, scalp restoration and incision suture,etc.Following the surgical plan was determined, the skull implant was manufactured by the rapid laser machine by using medical-grade PEEK powder. Subsequently, the PEEK 3D-printed skull implants and surgical devices were sterilized by high-pressure steam.

After clinical observation during hospitalization, the patient developed no adverse postoperative complications. The customized PEEK implant achieved excellent fixation and repairing effect, perfectly fit the original skull defect area and met the physiological and aesthetic requirements of the patient. The whole procedure from determining surgical plan by medical and engineering staff, manufacture of the cranial implant that meets all requirements to clinical application in the patient merely requires 48 h. At present, the patient is discharged from hospital and resumes normal social activities.

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