Last year we heard about a man that had 75 percent of his skull replaced with a 3D-printed replica. Now Wired UK reports a woman from the Netherlands has had the entire top section of her skull replaced with a transparent, plastic implant. Neurosurgeons from the University Medical Centre Utrecht performed the extreme procedure to save the woman from a rare chronic bone disorder, which increased the thickness of her cranium from 1.5 centimeters to five centimeters and put her at risk of permanent brain damage.
The added bone thickness pressed against the woman’s brain caused her headaches and reduced her eyesight. If left untreated, the condition could have worsened to serious brain damage or even death. The University doctors say this is the first time a 3D-printed cranium has not been rejected by the patient.
As with many 3D-printed prosthetics, the skull was made specifically for the patient. The skullcap itself, meanwhile, is made of an unspecified durable plastic, although scientists are unsure whether the part will need to be replaced or if it will last a lifetime. For now the implant seems to be working without a hitch; the patient has returned to work and has regained her full eyesight.
The doctors hope that this treatment can eventually used to help patients with other bone disorders. Alternatively, 3D-printed bones could repair severely damaged skulls after an accident or tumor.
Images via University Medical Centre Utrecht