What an age we live in. If the image above looks like the entire top of a skull — it’s because it is. Surgeons successfully replaced a 22 year old woman’s cranium with this plastic copy.
We’ve seen small 3D printed transplants before, but nothing as big as this. A 22 year old woman suffered from a very rare disorder in which her skull never stopped growing. While normal skulls are about 1.5cm thick, hers was almost 5cm thick by the time of the surgery. If they left it any longer, the continued bone growth would have eventually killed her.
Until now this surgery has required a hand-made concrete-like implant to replace the removed bone. As you can imagine, it’s hardly an ideal solution. Thanks to continually advancing 3D printing technology, surgeons at the University of Utrecht UMC were able to create an exact copy in a durable and lightweight clear plastic, which also has a better rate of brain function recovery than the old way of doing it.
The 23 hour surgery took place last December and was a huge success with the patient making a full recovery — if you’re not too squeamish around exposed brains, check out the following video. Wow.