University of Hasselt replaces lower jaw with 3D-printed replica

The University of Hasselt announced news last month of the first successful lower jaw transplant to utilise 3D printing technology. The infected lower jaw of an 83 year-old woman was surgically replaced with a titanium replica. The research group at the University of Hasselt Biomed research institute developed this new procedure in collaboration with XIOS College, the KU Leuven, the Mouth, Jaw and Face surgeons at Orbis Medical Centre in Sittard-Geleen (Netherlands), Xilloc Medical BV (Maastricht, Netherlands) and LayerWise NV.

The patient’s jaw had become severely infected. The only practical approach in such cases is either extensive reconstructive surgery or a complete removal of the jawbone. The latter technique was chosen in this case due to the advanced age of the patient. One advantage to this procedure is that it allows the patient to retain vital functions such as respiration, speech and feeling. The patient’s outward appearance is also unaffected by the procedure. The patient was able to speak just one day after undergoing surgery.

The lower jaw implant was manufactured by LayerWise NV (Leuven, Belgium). A form of 3D printing known as Laser Melting technology was used. It took only 2 hours to digitally process and create the implant, in contrast to other printing methods that can take as long as a few days to complete. This innovative procedure took the award for best innovation in the field of 3D printing at the RapidPro trade fair in Veldhoven, Netherlands.

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