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3D Printed Skull Saves a Young Woman’s Life

3d printed skull

We here at Dream It Do It have been reporting about all the amazing things 3D printers can do for some time now. We have stories ranging from 3D printed candy to 3D printed houses. But when that one 3D printing story comes along that just takes the top of your head off—in this case, literally!—we just have to tell you about it.

According to the Huffington Post, a 22-year-old Dutch woman has undergone a life-saving surgery thanks to a 3D printer. The woman was suffering from a deadly brain disorder and was saved when this innovative technology printed her an entire new cranium.

The surgery was performed back in December, lasting 23 hours, at the Utrecht Medical Center in the Netherlands. Doctors used a 3D printer to build a plastic bone prosthetic for the patient’s skull. They reported to the local Dutch News that this was the first full-skull transplant, not just the first one used with a 3D printer.

“Implants used to be made by hand in the operating theatre using a sort of cement which was far from ideal,” Dr. Ben Verweij, the neurologist who led the medical team at Utrecht, told the Dutch News. “Using 3D printing we can make one to the exact size. This not only has great cosmetic advantages, but patients’ brain function often recovers better than using the old method.”

The woman’s condition certainly warranted a skull transplant. She suffered from an abnormal skull-thickening disease that was compressing her brain and causing an inability to make facial expressions. If left untreated, the disease may very well have had fatal results.

“The patient has her sight back entirely, is symptom-free and [is] back to work. It is almost impossible to see that she’s ever had surgery,” said Verweij.

These printers are simply amazing in what they can accomplish, and hopefully their life-saving capabilities don’t stop here. We reported at the beginning of this year that the first 3D printed human organ (a liver) made from living cells may very well be on its way in 2014. If this milestone in technology is reached by the end of this year, think of what the medical field will look like in ten years.

We’ve been saying it from the beginning: 3D printers are the future of technology and they are just too cool to ignore anymore. Today, it’s a life-saving prosthetic skull; tomorrow, who knows what they’ll print next?

Photo credit: UMC Utrecht via Huffington Post

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