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3D printing used to rebuild accident victim’s shattered face

Doctors at Morriston Hospital in Swansea have reconstructed the face of a serious motorbike accident survivor using custom implants made with a 3D printer.

Stephen Power was wearing a helmet when his motorcycle crashed in 2012 but the accident nonetheless broke his cheek bones, upper jaw, nose and skull.

A team of doctors spent several months scanning 3D images of the victim’s face to create guides to cut and position bones, and also the plates to hold the bones in place. All the models and finished guides and medical-grade titanium implants were manufactured at a 3D printing specialist in Belgium.

Following months of 3D planning, Power underwent an eight-hour operation at Morriston Hospital last month in Swansea to restore his appearance. Maxillofacial surgeon Adrian Sugar led the project in collaboration with the Centre of Applied Reconstructive Technologies in Surgery – a developer of innovative prosthetics and reconstruction methods – as well as the National Centre for Product Design and Development Research.

Power, a 29-year-old native of Cardiff, is believed to be the first trauma patient in the world to have 3D printing technology used at every stage of a reconstructive medical procedure. The lead surgeon said after the surgery the cheekbone of Power is in good position.

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