Earlier this week, an unnamed man in the northeastern U.S. had 75 percent of his skull replaced by a 3-D printed implant made by Oxford Performance Materials, a Connecticut-based biomedical company. The replacement bone took only five days to fabricate, according to Scott DeFelice, the company's president and CEO.
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The rise of 3-D printing has turned body parts into a custom order. We can now 3-D-print customized prosthetics for everything from our hands to our ears. And now 3-D printing can even make you a new noggin.
The FDA cleared the implant, called the OsteoFab Patient Specific Cranial Device, for use in the U.S. back in mid-February.
The implant, printed to match the patient's skull, is made of PEKK, a biomedical implant polymer that's mechanically similar to bone and is osteoconductive, meaning bone cells will grow and attach to small details on its surface. It doesn't interfere with X-ray equipment -- it shows up as a shadow on the image, but is transparent. This makes it a more attractive implant for tumor patients than a traditional metal plate that a doctor couldn't see through on an X-ray.
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