In an Australian medical-first, 3D Medical (3DM) together with Oral and Maxillofacial have successfully developed and implanted a 3D-printable and customisable titanium jaw joint for use in corrective jaw surgery.
A 32-year-old male patient from east Melbourne underwent a five-hour operation where the metal jaw joint was implanted. According to 3D Medical, the patient was suffering from a rare jaw deformity due to missing left jaw joint, which left him with a skewed lowered face, limited jaw opening, and as a consequence a lack of growth in the left side of his face.
Following the surgery, Oral and Maxillofacial surgeon Dr George Dimitroulis said: "We are at the cross-roads of an exciting era of customised medical devices that will become an integral part of healthcare in the 21st Century."
3DM chairman Dr Nigel Finch said the successful outcome of the surgery validates the company's design and development of custom implants.
"3DM expects to see an increase in cases of this type as leading clinicians and hospitals seek to leverage the data-rich medical images used in patient diagnoses by harnessing computer-aided design and precise 3D printing to more efficiently solve complex clinical problems," he said.
As part of the commercialisation process of the implant, aside from the design and development of it, 3DM said it gained approvals from hospitals, clinicians, healthcare suppliers, and the health insurer who paid for the cost of the patient's procedure.
Increasingly, 3D printing technology is being used in the medical world. Last year, Japanese researchers created a 3D printer that could produce artificial bones, with the potential of seeing it used to help fix broken bones or replace bone tissue lost to conditions such as cancer or in collisions.
Similarly, a team of Indian plastic surgeons used 3D-printing technology to repair the deformed skull of a girl, who was suffering from a condition called craniosynostosis -- a premature ossification of the bone in an infant skull, where the joints between the bones apparently fuse together in an abnormal way.
Gartner has also previously suggested that bioprinting -- the 3D technology of living human tissuing and organs -- will progress far faster than general understanding of the ramifications of the technology.
Gartner research director Pete Basiliere said bioprinting initiatives are well-intentioned but raise questions about quality and control, and the possible development of complex enhanced organs involving nonhuman cells.
"The day when 3D-bioprinted human organs are readily available is drawing closer, and will result in a complex debate involving a great many political, moral and financial interests," he said in a statement.