The surgery-related 3D imprinting revolution arrives in France

Publié le : 28 March 2014

 The Dijon CHU (University Hospital Centre) was one of the first hospitals in Europe to acquire a 3D printer last December. Using imaging slides, the hospital can use this technology to print out the facial bone structure of patients scheduled for facial implant surgery. The production of tailor-made implants is now a reality. Will it help generate tailor-made living organs tomorrow?

This revolutionary technique was introduced to Dijon by Professor Narcisse Zwetyenga, Head of Maxillo-facial Surgery at the CHU. It reproduces a 3D model of the patient’s skull "using micro-layers of interposed heat-formed plastic". This means that more progress can be made on the day of the procedure because "the area to be resected will have already been evaluated together with the bone section to be excised in order to reconstruct the jaw".

This technique offers numerous advantages: The risk associated with anaesthesia is essentially lower because the procedure is shorter. Similarly, the patient spends less time in hospital (5 days instead of 7), and the risk of infection is potentially reduced. However, the machine costs in the region of €.400,000

Looking further ahead, some medical professionals think that it will soon be possible to imprint bone or living organs. Last winter, an American company announced that they had imprinted a liver, but this could not be transplanted. Getting the blood supply to these organs poses the major problem. A Bordeaux laboratory is currently working on the cornea, which does not require a blood supply. Fabien Guillemot (INSERM) explained that the imprinted sections of cornea could be used to test the toxicity of industrial and pharmaceutical products 18 months from now. And in 7 to 10 years, imprinted cornea transplants will be feasible. Other studies are also underway in Bordeaux such as the imprinting of cells and material to replace dialysis to "extend the life of a kidney".

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