BRUSSELS, Feb. 6 (UPI) — A Belgian woman is able to chew, speak and breathe normally after the implantation of a new jawbone created on a 3D printer, doctors say.
The replacement jaw, created out of a fine titanium powder sculpted layer by layer by a precision laser beam, has proved a successful substitute for her own jaw all but destroyed by a potent infection called osteomyelitis, NewScientist.com reported Monday.
“This is a world premiere, the first time a patient‐specific implant has replaced the entire lower jaw,” Jules Poukens of the University of Hasselt in Belgium said. “It’s a cautious, but firm step.”
Poukens and fellow researchers collaborated with a 3D printing firm called Layerwise in Leuven, Belgium, which specializes in printing with ultrastrong titanium to make dental implants and facial and spinal bone implants.
An MRI scan of the patient’s jawbone was fed into a laser sintering 3D printer which fused tiny titanium particles layer by layer until the shape of her jawbone was recreated, then it was coated in a biocompatible ceramic layer.
The 4-hour jaw implant operation was a success, researchers said.
“Shortly after waking up from the anesthetic the patient spoke a few words, and the day after was able to speak and swallow normally again,” Poukens said.