BiomaterialsMedicalPersonalized Medicine

Materialise, surgeons complete double hand and face transplant

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Materialise‘s 3D technologies played a crucial role in the world’s first successful simultaneous double hand and face transplant. The operations was performed at NYU Langone Health in Manhattan, NY. Materialise’s innovative 3D planning and printing tools enable the speed and accuracy required for such a complex medical procedure. 3D printed personalized tools, such as those used in the double hand and face transplant, are also increasingly common for use in routine surgery. The reliability of 3D-printed tools allows surgeons greater confidence in the operating theatre.

In the present case, a 22-year old patient suffered burn wounds resulting from a car accident. He was left with severe injuries to his face and both arms. He suffered significant damage to his soft tissue, which severely limited his ability to lead a normal life. During a preparation period of 14 months, Materialise clinical engineers teamed up with NYU Langone surgeons. They rehearsed the operation in a lab environment to develop and fine-tune a surgical plan.

Materialise engineers coordinated the development of a surgical plan and created an on-screen 3D model based on CT-scans.
Materialise engineers coordinated the development of a surgical plan and created an on-screen 3D model based on CT-scans.

Materialise engineers created an on-screen 3D model based on CT-scans. This model allowed the surgeons and clinical engineers to virtually plan the procedure and visualize different scenarios in three dimensions, creating an in-depth understanding of the patient’s anatomical bone structure and helping to determine the optimal surgical flow. Pre-surgical planning also made it possible for surgeons to virtually select and position various medical implants to predict the optimal anatomical fit. Once the surgical plan was finalized, Materialise 3D printed the personalized surgical guides, anatomical models and tools for use during the transplant surgery.

The team, led by Dr. Eduardo D. Rodriguez, the Helen L. Kimmel Professor of Reconstructive Plastic Surgery and chair of the Hansjörg Wyss Department of Plastic Surgery at NYU Langone, had only 24 hours to begin the procedure once a suitable donor was found.

Rodriguez and his surgical team of sixteen used Materialise’s 3D printed cutting and drilling guides during the procedure. This fully guided system for bone fragment repositioning and fixation was unique to the patient’s anatomy. It helped precisely position the medical tools, which reduced the overall surgery time. Additionally, Materialise created 3D printed sterilizable identification tags for nerves and blood vessels, 3D printed models that were used during donor transport, and 3D printed splints, thus enabling optimal donor hand position during soft tissue reconstruction.

“Complex transplant surgery like this brings together a large team of specialists and presents new and unique challenges”, said Dr. Rodriguez. “This demands careful planning and makes timing, efficiency and accuracy absolutely critical. Virtually planning the surgery in 3D and creating 3D printed, patient-specific tools offers additional insights in the pre-operative phase and increased levels of speed and accuracy during a time-critical surgery”.

“Image-based planning and medical 3D printing have completely revolutionized personalized patient care by providing surgeons with detailed insights and an additional level of confidence before entering the operation room,” said Bryan Crutchfield, Materialise’s Vice President and General Manager – North America. “As a result, leading hospitals are adopting 3D planning and printing services as part of their medical practices because they create a level of predictability that would be impossible to achieve without the use of 3D technologies.”

Pre-surgical planning made it possible for surgeons to virtually select and position various medical implants to predict the optimal anatomical fit.
Pre-surgical planning made it possible for surgeons to virtually select and position various medical implants to predict the optimal anatomical fit.
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Adam Strömbergsson

Adam is a legal researcher and writer with a background in law and literature. Born in Montreal, Canada, he has spent the last decade in Ottawa, Canada, where he has worked in legislative affairs, law, and academia. Adam specializes in his pursuits, most recently in additive manufacturing. He is particularly interested in the coming international and national regulation of additive manufacturing. His past projects include a history of his alma mater, the University of Ottawa. He has also specialized in equity law and its relationship to judicial review. Adam’s current interest in additive manufacturing pairs with his knowledge of historical developments in higher education, copyright and intellectual property protections.

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