3D Printed Jaw Transplant Takes Place in SA


The Central University of Technology (CUT) in Bloemfontein, South Africa, has helped two men smile again after they received a 3D printed jaw transplant, marking the 2nd time 3D printed technology has been used for this kind of procedure.

3D modelling of patient
3D modelling of the implant
3D print of the patient and implant


The implants are ground breaking for the medical field, with the two men receiving titanium implants after losing significant portions of their jawline to cancer. The operations were aided by the team at CUT’s Centre for Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing which was headed by Professor Cules van der Heever. Website 3DPrint reported van der Heever as stating:

‘More than 500 new cases of head and neck cancer are diagnosed every year in the Northern Cape alone. These cancers causes serious disfiguration, negatively affecting patients’ living quality. The idea with these implants is to fix the facial contour and restore normal function and appearance.’

The prints made by the team at CUT were exact prints of the patients jaw structures and were transplanted into the two patients by a team of 5 surgeons. The fact that the jaws were custom built meant that the surgery time was limited, adding another layer in the reduction of costs.

The potential of 3D printing is yet to be fully realised in the world of transplants. With the ability to drive down costs as well as increase supply, the results of this latest procedure might prove to be a breakthrough. The first procedure of this type (above) occurred back in 2012 when a group of doctors from the Netherlands operated on an 83 year old women with the assistance of 3D printing company Layerwise. OCM.

Photos: CUT

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