In what will be the first operation of its kind, an anonymous man is on track to receive a 3D-printed prosthesis that will replace 75 percent of his skull cap, according to Oxford Performance Materials (OPM), the company that is supplying the cranium replacement.
The news comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave OPM its approval to use poly-ether-ketone-ketone (PEKK) as a skull implant. As opposed to metallic compounds such as stainless steel and titanium found in many prosthetics, PEKK has the advantage of being more flexible, more resistant to abrasion, and more similar to bone in terms of density and stiffness.
And now people with skulls injured by disease or trauma are now cleared to get operations in the U.S., even though OPM has been selling 3D-printed implants as a contract manufacturer overseas.
According to TechNewsDaily, OPM's 3D-printed prosthetics can also encourage cell growth:
"3D printing's advantage comes from taking the digitally scanned model of a patient's skull and 'printing' out a matching 3D object layer by layer. The precise manufacturing technique can even make tiny surface or edge details on the replacement part that encourage the growth of cells and allow bone to attach more easily."
OPM president Scott DeFelice says up to 500 patients in the U.S. could benefit from skull bone replacement every month, specifically those with cancerous skull bones, car accident victims and U.S. military personnel. The skull prosthetic will lay the groundwork for using PEKK to replace other bony voids says DeFelice, which will be a huge win for medical science and another win for 3D-printing.