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Man Has 75% of Skull Replaced By 3D-Printed Materials

Soulskill posted about a year and a half ago | from the i-wonder-if-they'll-do-customized-designs dept.

Medicine 74

redletterdave writes "An un-named male patient in the U.S. has had 75 percent of his skull replaced with 3D printed materials. The undisclosed patient had his head imaged by a 3D scanner before South Windsor, Conn.-based Oxford Performance Materials (OPM) gained approval from US regulators to print the bone replacement. OPM's final skull replacement was built within two weeks, and inserted in the patient's skull in an operation performed earlier this week; this cutting-edge procedure was only just revealed on Friday. OPM's 3D-printed process was granted approval by the FDA back on Feb. 18, which means the company can now provide 3D printed replacements for bones damaged by trauma or even disease. The company says this technique could benefit more than 500 U.S. citizens each month, from injured factory or construction workers to wounded soldiers."

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Dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121385)

This is so cool

Re:Dude (3, Funny)

JWSmythe (446288) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123947)

They forgot to mention that it was adamantite.

Re:Dude (3, Funny)

craigminah (1885846) | about a year and a half ago | (#43125111)

They also omitted that the procedure was done by Cyberdyne Systems.

Backbone printing (5, Funny)

M3.14 (1616191) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121417)

Finally a solution for people without any backbone.

Re:Backbone printing (3, Funny)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123299)

Finally a solution for people without any backbone.

Now if they can perfect brain transplants we can finally fix Congress.

Re:Backbone printing (2)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123495)

Finally a solution for people without any backbone.

Now if they can perfect brain transplants we can finally fix Congress.

They did, just open a can of Spam. The hard part is giving them a soul that doesn't die on contact with such corruption.

Re:Backbone printing (2)

dreamchaser (49529) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123669)

Finally a solution for people without any backbone.

Now if they can perfect brain transplants we can finally fix Congress.

Not just Congress. There might even be hope for the majority of Redditors.

Designer skulls (1)

vanyel (28049) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121431)

...taking body modification to a whole new level...

Re:Designer skulls (3, Funny)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121447)

Can you spell "Minbari"? ;-)

Re:Designer skulls (0)

slick7 (1703596) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123499)

Can you spell "Minbari"? ;-)

Can you spell, Sith?

Re:Designer skulls (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123631)

It'd be kind of ironic to be a bonehead when it isn't really bone....

Re:Designer skulls (1)

Skrapion (955066) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123791)

Au contraire! The replacement has small surface details etched into it to promote new bone growth.

Re:Designer skulls (0)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123807)

Those devious Minbari have thought of everything....

Re:Designer skulls (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43123889)

Actually more like a Terminator, Wolverine or possibly Master Chief.

This worries me (2, Funny)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121435)

If printing skulls becomes common practice, it's going to make AdBlock a lot less effective. I really don't want to be seeing some banner ad just because I sat behind the wrong person on the bus.

Re:This worries me (3, Insightful)

Algae_94 (2017070) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121453)

Let's get this straight. You don't want to see any banner ads on a bus? When was the last time you saw a public bus?

Re:This worries me (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121745)

Yeah, these days the bus itself is a damn banner ad.

Re:This worries me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43124203)

I've been blind since birth, you insensitive clod!

Re:This worries me (1)

djbckr (673156) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121525)

Not sure whether to mark this "Funny" or "Insightful"... I guess I'll lose my mod points for this comment.

pics or it didnt happen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121441)

pics or it didnt happen

Re:pics or it didnt happen (0)

DFurno2003 (739807) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121455)

no balls

Re:pics or it didnt happen (2)

RoknrolZombie (2504888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121645)

Of course not, those require an advanced 3D printing technique that we won't see for at least a few more weeks.

Re:pics or it didnt happen (3, Interesting)

godel_56 (1287256) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122189)

pics or it didnt happen

You asked for it.

http://www.technewsdaily.com/images/i/000/011/153/original/osteofab-cranial-device.jpg?1362591104

TFA says they use some sort of plastic called polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) so I'm guessing structual strength won't be a major selling feature.

Re:pics or it didnt happen (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122541)

That is the only picture which is getting passed around... but that replacement part is nowhere near 75% of the skull.

Re:pics or it didnt happen (2)

knarf (34928) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123015)

TFA says they use some sort of plastic called polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) so I'm guessing structual strength won't be a major selling feature.

The first hit on 'polyetherketoneketone' [rtpcompany.com] on a well-known search engine reads as follows:

Advantages:
 
    High strength and toughness
    Chemical resistance
    Easy processing

Trauma (3, Interesting)

JamJam (785046) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121467)

Trauma injury that caused 75% of the skull to be destroyed surely must have a huge impact on the brain. Hopefully the patient isn't in a vegetative state...

a vegetative state (2)

Doug Otto (2821601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121655)

Like Nebraska?

Re:a vegetative state (4, Funny)

Reverand Dave (1959652) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121725)

No, brain dead, more like Texas.

Re:Trauma (2)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121679)

At the moment, we don't even know if it *was* trauma injury. I actually suspect it was not; disease that required replacement of the bone seems more likely, for exactly the reason you state. We don't know, because nobody seems to be reporting any details on the man's condition.

Re:Trauma (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122631)

Article does mention that they scanned the patient's skull and made an as close to possible replica of it. I don't think that'd be an option if the guy got hit by a bus.

Measure and model (1)

andersh (229403) | about a year and a half ago | (#43127865)

I imagine it wouldn't take an insane amount of work to calculate the missing piece(s) of a scanned skull if they have other models to build on and software with math skills. There's a certain symmetry to all human skulls and only slight variations on the features' length and width etc. If you get hit by a bus, I imagine even a crushed skull or face would only require a lot of measurements of bone fragments and general size of the skull.

Re:Trauma (1)

jamesh (87723) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121695)

Trauma injury that caused 75% of the skull to be destroyed surely must have a huge impact on the brain. Hopefully the patient isn't in a vegetative state...

I think there are other diseases that can cause bone loss, but google for "half a head" and you'll find some interesting pictures. Nowhere near 75% but still a significant amount of bone loss from trauma where the patient can still walk and talk.

Re:Trauma (2)

crakbone (860662) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121739)

Think I met someone like that at the DMV.

Re:Trauma (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121701)

The article mentioned Connecticut which isn't one of the vegetative states.

Re:Trauma (1)

almechist (1366403) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122173)

The article mentioned Connecticut which isn't one of the vegetative states.

Clearly you don't live here.

Re:Trauma (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43123555)

Cancer maybe? The article specifies just the possible application areas, not the actual condition of the patient. I was hoping they could insert some nifty carbon fiber composite to make the patient three meters tall and very difficult to kill.

Re:Trauma (1)

ByteSlicer (735276) | about a year and a half ago | (#43124909)

Looking at the picture of the implant, it was more like 75% op his skull cap. I don't think losing 75% of your skull would be survivable.

The printers may be getting cheaper (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121501)

But what they fail to tell you is it takes hundreds of thousands of dollars to do anything with the output.

I'll stick with the monochrome laser.

Firearm? (1)

stevegee58 (1179505) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121541)

Yes, but will he be required to register it as a firearm?

Re:Firearm? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121601)

Only if he has a Picatinny rail on the crest.

Re:Firearm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121833)

Haven't seen a patent for a skul gun yet.

This is nothing new. (1)

sehlat (180760) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121555)

Politicians have had 100% skull replacement for centuries.

Re:This is nothing new. (3, Insightful)

RoknrolZombie (2504888) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121653)

Hidden in the rectum != Replacement

Actually 3D printed? (2)

gatfirls (1315141) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121627)

I'm curious if it is what we would consider 3d printed. Not that it isn't cool, I just know it's popular to latch onto a new buzztech word because of the press.

Re:Actually 3D printed? (1)

wonkey_monkey (2592601) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122197)

You could always - yes, yes, I know, this is Slashdot - read the article. It's sparse on details, but it will at least tell you that

Oxford Performance Materials adapted EOS P800 printing technology to use a special polyetherketoneketone (PEKK) material that has proved suitable for human implants.

Re:Actually 3D printed? (1)

Dasuraga (1147871) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122817)

You call it a buzzword, but being able to make things like this without requiring a mold is pretty different.

Re:Actually 3D printed? (1)

Celarent Darii (1561999) | about a year and a half ago | (#43124245)

An enormous difference, actually. I have a friend who works with prosthetics and the construction of the mold is often a large part of the cost in making things like joint replacements for hips. In some situations the mold is very costly, and it can only be done once - if it doesn't work they have to do the whole thing over. This is a huge leap forward.

Re:Actually 3D printed? (1)

Russ1642 (1087959) | about a year and a half ago | (#43126207)

With a 3D printer you skip many steps in making something. In the past molds were made directly off of someone's limb. Now, they scan the limb into the computer and design the new part off of it. Computer design allows much more sophistication. Once the design is done you print directly from that and test the component on the individual getting treatment. If there's an issue you can make a minor fix to the design and print again. It's probably cheaper to take five stabs at printing something on a 3D printer than doing one version of the old process where you take a mold, do casts, modify them by hand, etc.

Re:Actually 3D printed? (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122875)

Reading TFA and googling the machine mentioned, yes it's a 3D printer.

Wolverine! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43121667)

X-Men are here.

boneless chickens (1)

crakbone (860662) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121781)

Now if only they could use technology for the boneless chicken industry. Those poor chickens have been suffering for a long time.

Futurama quote (1)

jgunchy (602271) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121839)

"My only regret is that I have... Boneitis."

no more helmets? (1)

turkeydance (1266624) | about a year and a half ago | (#43121895)

just imagine an integral shock absorbing modular skull. of course, a helmet protects more than the brain, but this is good news. i needed some.

Re:no more helmets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43122359)

We have one. It just has been outmoded by our predilection for high-kinetic-energy activities that frequently end abruptly at a tree or wall.

All I want to know is... (1)

multimediavt (965608) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122019)

...can they print Roger Ebert a new jaw, because damn, that sucks! [wikipedia.org]

Not clear on the concept (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43122047)

I don't get it, how does subjecting an injured and disfigured skull or other bone to 3D scanning help build a replacement? It seems to me the scanning has to occur before the injury or illness, otherwise you'll just be replacing a defective bone with an equally defective 3D printed replacement. So what, the guy in TFA just happened to have had his skull scanned right before the injury/illness occurred? Seems unlikely. Should we now all go and have all our bones scanned, just in case? Something doesn't add up here.

Re:Not clear on the concept (1)

the biologist (1659443) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122505)

The normal shape of a skull can be worked out easily from looking at lots of other people... the scanning of the patient allow the replacement piece to fit precisely with what remains of the original skull.

Cousin Eddie? (2)

jtownatpunk.net (245670) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122113)

Poor guy will never be able to ride a saucer sled down a hill again. "...if this gets dented then my hair just ain't gonna look right."

seems like it might be a better alternative (2)

HPHatecraft (2748003) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122131)

to bamboo.

Abstract [nih.gov]

Transparent Skull (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43122177)

What? Tattoos? 1960s! Piercings? 1980s! These things where they burn you, or slice you? 2000s! No man, the next thing is to have your scalp removed and then you have a 3D-printed, transparent skull with LEDs mounted inside! Maybe even multi-color ones to indicate your mood!

Printing Private Parts for men and women :) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43122351)

It'll eventually happen sooner or later. :-p

How about a bullet-proof skull then? (1)

heteromonomer (698504) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122639)

Can someone knowledgeable (i.e. not speculating) or working in the medical device industry explain why we can't use some really hard material like a titanium alloy or Kevlar to make the skull bullet-proof, especially for those in combat?

Re:How about a bullet-proof skull then? (1)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123013)

Or while we are at it build in some tech, Hey they are replacing the skull after all why not put in a few things that may or may not come in handy later. For example cochlear implant with blue-tooth receiver when the person get older they will not need a operation to help their hearing and could make cell calls sans the annoying earbug in the meantime. they could also through in a few eeg sensors like the ones in the emotiv epoc headset only emebed in the new skull so you could mind control computers with the right software and training. they could also you could do all sorts of stuff with a manufactured head.

Re:How about a bullet-proof skull then? (3, Informative)

Troll-in-Training (1815480) | about a year and a half ago | (#43123327)

Can someone knowledgeable (i.e. not speculating) or working in the medical device industry explain why we can't use some really hard material like a titanium alloy or Kevlar to make the skull bullet-proof, especially for those in combat?

Transfer of Kinetic Energy. If you just used a hard bullet proof material the kinetic energy would pass straight through and liquefy the brain.

To make a bullet proof skull you would have to use a hard outer shell, a collapsable inner filler to absorb the kinetic energy and a hard inner shell to prevent spalling from shredding the brain. With current materials science it would be ridiculously thick and heavy and cause more problems than it would solve unless you could reinforce the spine and neck muscles, and it would have to be replaced/rebuilt after every impact.

Take a look at the size and thickness of current combat helmets to see what I mean, and remember that current helmets will not stop a high caliber round or an armor piercing one in a direct impact. They only protect against shrapnel, glancing blows from assault rifle rounds and some light pistol rounds under the right conditions. They have to be discarded after one serious protective use as they are designed to stop the damage by sacrificing their structural integrity (they only stop one hit in the same spot).

Re:How about a bullet-proof skull then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43124087)

Because there aren't very many substances you can implant in a human body without having some kind of bad reaction to it - some kind of chemical reaction, or an allergic reaction, or bacteria building up on it or stuff like that. It's really hard to find any alloy that is tolerated inside the body and has reasonable strength characteristics. I'm surprised they could find something that could be 3d printed, and that would still be tolerated/not degrade inside a human.

Re:How about a bullet-proof skull then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43125693)

Considering soldiers don't even wear *helmets* that can stop rifle rounds, it is unklikely you could fit one in the space of the skull.

Pre-deployment scan (1)

ed314159 (1481883) | about a year and a half ago | (#43122919)

Perhaps it should be standard practice for individuals in danger of serious trauma, such as members of the military, to undergo bone scans to provide templates for future replacements.

Re:Pre-deployment scan (1)

Celarent Darii (1561999) | about a year and a half ago | (#43124253)

Even better - how about for sports athletes and even every person of adult age goes to the doctor for a scan, and his skeleton is profiled and kept in a database for future use.

Imagine what we could do if we could 3d print organs.

Re:Pre-deployment scan (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43126033)

Imagine what we could do if we could 3d print organs.

We are getting there. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9RMx31GnNXY

Brings new meaning to Print Head (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43123557)

This brings new meaning to to the concept: Print Head

They don't mention why he needed it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#43124653)

So did he have his skull replaced just for giggles?

What is good for humans is good for animals too (2)

guinea pig C (759901) | about a year and a half ago | (#43128975)

In 2007, hunters shot an Alaskan bald eagle in the face and left her for dead, but she was then found by Jane Fink Cantwell, a bird conservationist. The bird’s entire upper beak had been shot off, the equivalent of losing a limb for birds that use their beaks for feeding and preening feathers, and clearly a death sentence for this majestic creature. Janie and her small volunteer staff at the Raptor Chapter kept the bird alive through liquid tube-feeding until mechanical engineer Nate Calvin was able create a prosthetic beak using a 3D printed nylon-based polymer. This magnificent bird of prey has since recovered to full health and has been named Beauty, and most deservedly so. http://birdsofpreynorthwest.org/beauty-and-the-beak-project/ [birdsofpreynorthwest.org] This work was much more of an effort to increase the quality of the bird's captive life, rather than facilitate a release back into the wild with a new beak, but that should not restrict future projects. Contrary to initial thoughts, the beak actually needs to be ‘weaker’ not ‘stronger’ since the limitation is the connection points and the purchase available at those attachments. A new design is in the planning stages which will have ‘give points’ designed to allow the beak to flex before damage can be done at the connection points. http://i.ytimg.com/vi/y5BYcu1glK4/0.jpg [ytimg.com] The success of this project has led to the consideration of how 3D printing can be applied to the rehabilitation of other animals afflicted with similar damage. With the financial rise of the Chinese has also come a growth in the black market trafficking of endangered species body parts. These most famously include shark fins and tiger penis, sometimes for consumption, sometimes for pseudo-scientific medicine. One of the most horrific trends is the growth in illegal poaching of rhinos for their highly prized horns. A single specimen can now command up to $500,000 from Chinese buyers. In the most recent cases, well-funded poachers with high powered rifles and night vision goggles have been flying night raids into nature reserves by private helicopter. Upon immobilising these magnificent creatures, they proceed to hack off the horns, either with machetes or chainsaws. Unsurprisingly, few of the rhinos survive, situations quite similar to enormous sharks killed simply for a single fin. Printing a replacement horn for a rhino is obviously many magnitudes more difficult that printing a beak for an eagle, but this is a project that is being pursued. Designing a replacement is feasible from a mechanical standpoint, but has some incredible challenges from a practical viewpoint (controlling the animal during and after the procedure, limiting/assessing a ‘typical’ use/load scenario after attachment). Excerpted from "3D Printing - The Next Techologoy Goldrush"
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