A 3D-printed implant was used to replace 75 percent of a man's skull in a surgical procedure earlier this week. The prosthetic was constructed using an additive printing process, and was implanted following manufacturer Oxford Performance Materials receiving FDA approval to use the technology last month. News.com.au reports that the company can create similar implants in two weeks after receiving 3D scans of a patient's injured area. It believes that 500 people in the US each month could take advantage of the new process.
The implant is made of polyetherketoneketone, a biocompatible polymer that won't interfere with X-rays. Small details are etched along the surface of the prosthetic to promote the growth of bone and cells. This is the first additively manufactured polymer implant to receive approval by the FDA. Reports on the new surgery are unclear on whether it was 75 percent of the skull's surface area or the skull's mass that was replaced, however we believe that it's likely to be the latter. Because the implant doesn't have to be tooled and can be created directly from a digital file, the company reports that there are few limits on what it can make.