A 6-month-old child who was born with a congenital skull deformity known as plagiocephaly harnessed the power of 3D printing and virtual planning to help improve the surgery that they would have to perform. The deformity causes one of the growth plates of the skull to fuse prematurely. The result is a flattened forehead on one side, and a prominence of the other side. It also typically causes orbital asymmetry.
The team of surgeons from Stony Brook University, which is led by Dr. Michael Egnor (Professor of Neurosurgery) and Dr. Elliot B. Duboys (Associate Professor of Plastic Surgery) used Computerized Assisted Design to take the images from a CAT scan and create virtual models as well as a 3D model of the skull.
They then planned out the surgery virtually so they would have a much better idea of what to expect when they actually did the surgery. In addition, they were able to use the virtual data to 3D print the results of the surgery, so they would know exactly what they would need to do in order to get the results they wanted.
The surgery was performed successfully using these models, and the Doctors have said that the procedure was shortened significantly because of their preparations using the 3D printed model and virtual practice. The child is doing extremely well post-surgery.
3D printing and other advanced technologies like this are helping doctors prepare for surgeries in ways that were not possible a short time ago. By having a very precise representation of the patient, doctors experience far fewer complications and unexpected events, which can dramatically improve the outcomes.