ACCIDENT victims who suffered serious facial injuries now have a new alternative method to correct facial positioning to its original through a 3D-printed facial implant.

Recognising the importance of expertise to restore a severe damage caused by accidents, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery expert Dr Mohd Nazimi Abd Jabar came up with a 3D-printed facial implant to treat a patient who was involved in a severe car accident that left her with facial defects.

Working with Materialise Malaysia Sdn Bhd, a pioneer in 3D printing, the method is the first in Malaysia to use a 3D-printed implant to repair facial fractures.

Dr Mohd Nazimi said by using a 3D planning software and a custom-made 3D-printed titanium device, he was able to reconstruct the skull around the patient’s left eye, which significantly helped alleviate the pain that she felt from excruciating headaches. “On a simple X-ray you only get a limited amount of information, which is not sufficient to have an accurate analysis of the patient’s pathology and visualise the extent of tumorous growth or damage to a patient’s bone,” he said.

3D provides better understanding of anatomy“However, with 3D, you can get a better understanding of a patient’s unique anatomy and the relationship between bone, soft tissue, and other internal structures,” he told Bernama recently. Dr Mohd Nazimi said he cooperated with the engineers at OBL to virtually visualise the patient’s anatomy in 3D using specialised software, which uses the patient’s MRI or CT data and allows the doctor to define the best surgical approach. Together with a clinical engineer at OBL, the surgery was planned and an implant was designed and manufactured by OBL to fit the exact dimensions of the patient’s face, he said. Dr Mohd Nazimi said the 3D-printed implant not only provided excellent support around the patient’s eye socket to restore the anatomy, but it also mimics the properties of the real bone. Compared to traditional facial implants, he said the 3D-printed implant is more porous and lightweight while retaining an optimal strength which is comfortable for the patient.

Technology-driven surgeries on the rise

“It can facilitate natural bone growth. It is designed to deal with temperature changes and is impact resistant. “Plus, since the device was designed specifically for the patient, it was easy for me to implant, saving time in the operating theatre in addition to achieve better results,” he added. Dr Mohd Nazimi said the surgical profession was changing and becoming more technology-driven, so doctors must keep abreast on new solutions and options. “As a surgeon, knowing the exact dimensions for an incision and exact locations of damage increases the quality of surgical outcomes. “This 3D planning and printing technology provides just that by helping surgeons like me visualise and predict outcomes,” he concluded.

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