3D Printing and Facial Transplants

Photo Courtesy of Radiological Society of North America

3-D Printing and Facial Transplants

"The soft tissues that are 3-D printed in one piece are much better than photographs. They provide a better understanding of what’s between the skin and bones than any two-dimensional representation can,” explains Dr. Frank J. Rybicki. 

3-D technology continues to expand its applications.  This week at the 2014 Radiological Society of North American annual meeting in Chicago, Dr. Frank J. Rybicki, the director of Applied Imaging Science Laboratory at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, talked about using 3-D printing for a full-face transplant patient.

The patient was Carmel Tarleton who received a face transplant in 2013.  

Dr. Rybicki illustrated the potential of Stratasys 3D models form pre- and post-op situations. Printed from the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 and the Objet Eden 260VS, models showed simulated facial tissue and bone structure, as well as how Dr. Rybicki’s team is using them to better understand the state of soft tissue at various stages in time.

“We’ve 3-D printed the soft tissues before and after Carmen’s full-face transplantation,” says Dr. Rybicki. “We’re going to illustrate those dramatic changes in tissues using a new method that has been previously unavailable. The soft tissues that are 3-D printed in one piece are much better than photographs. They provide a better understanding of what’s between the skin and bones than any two-dimensional representation can.”

Talking about Carmen’s and other patients' results, in an article on livescience.com, Rybicki said the patients “went from having no face and no features at all, to being able to talk and eat and breathe properly."

"The medical research and advancements brought on by 3D printing is truly life altering,” says Gilad Gans, president, Stratasys North America. “We strive to empower the healthcare heroes with technologies, materials and work flow to help advance their cause.

For more information on the Brigham and Women’s Applied Imaging Science Laboratory, visit their website.

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