How would you like most of your skull to be 3D printed? For one woman in Netherlands, this has actually happened. She suffered from skull bone thickening and lost her sight as a result of the condition.  Doctors have used a 3D printed skull from the Australian company Anatomics and placed it into the woman’s head.  The surgery took a total of 23 hours and, thanks to the doctors and this technology, she is doing well and has fully regained her sight.

Usually doctors create implants that are much harder and not as good a fit. However, with this new technology, doctors can create an implant that will fit the patient perfectly, lessening the threat of rejection. Anatomics specializes in creating such technology, like the skull that was used by the doctors in Netherlands, as well as offering anatomically correct 3D images that surgeons use to plan out different procedures.

With these new technologies, doctors hope to reduce patient operation and recovery time, and create new organs as well as different body parts. In order to make sure the 3D printed body parts will fit perfectly to each patient, there are a series of steps that must be followed. Doctors first take a CT scan of what needs to be replaced to make the image for the 3D printer. They will then use the 3D printer to make an exact replica of the body part, using the patient’s cells within the plastic. This is important to make sure that it matches with the inside of the body so there is no rejection. With these new breakthroughs in science, doctors are hoping to save many more lives in ways that have never been attempted before.

Learn more unbelievable science at “The Science of Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”® at Arizona Science Center through May 4, 2014!

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