3-D Printed Skull Sucessfully Transplanted in Woman’s Head


By: Haylee Fisher

Doctors in the Netherlands recently announced they performed skull surgery on a woman a few months ago and have waited until now to reveal the successful outcome due to the surgery’s unusual nature. But what makes it so unusual? During the surgery, they were able to replace the majority of her skull with a 3-D printed plastic one.

3-D printing technology has been used in the past to produce everything from guns to Hershey bars but after this achievement will likely be used more and more in the medical industry. It is important to note, however, 3-D printing has been used in previous medical procedures like lower jaw implants and prostheses, but nothing to a level this significant.

The woman, a 22-year-old whose name wasn’t released, suffered from a rare and abnormal skull-thickening condition which was compressing her brain, causing her to lose her vision, and affecting her motor skills. Doctors said after this surgery, her pain is gone and she can see again.

In brain surgeries, it is not uncommon for part of the skull to be removed for swelling to go down or just to remove pressure and then put back later or be replaced by an implant. Cement implants have been used in the past, which don’t always work, but the beauty of this new development is that it can be made into an exact fit. Not only is the advantage cosmetic, but patients often have better brain function with a better-fitting transplant.

WARNING: Below is actual and graphic footage from the surgery where you will see the patients brain and skull if you want to take a look. It is in Dutch, though English subtitles are available.

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