3-D printed skull saves child born with exposed brain

3-D printed skull Image Sygnis SA SWNS

A 3-D printed skull has saved the life of a child born with an exposed brain in Rzeszow in Poland.

News of the surgery to insert the skull was made public on August 23 according to the Metro, with the operation having taken place earlier this year days after the little girl was born.

According to doctors, the defect was not detected during the mother’s pregnancy, resulting in the delicate operation that required a 1:1 scale model to enable doctors to plan the surgery.

Making the announcement were Polish tech company Sygnis who revealed that they had produced the medical innovation that led to the saving of the child’s life.

Sygnis said in a statement: ‘In February 2022, we printed a pre-operative skull model of a newborn baby. With an urgent order and a 3D-printed model ready to go, we were approached by Pawel Ozga – a specialist in medical imaging segmentation.

‘The baby was born in Rzeszow, and immediately after birth, was transported to the University Children’s Hospital in Krakow to the Neonatal Pathology and Intensive Care Unit, where detailed diagnostics were performed.

“Neonatal surgery differs dramatically from adult surgery. Pediatric surgery requires greater delicacy, precision and faster response, all due to the still-forming human body. Many times surgery must take place immediately after birth, where every minute is at a premium.

“The time after delivery was crucial here. At the same time, a centre was sought that would agree to provide specialised treatment for the defect. Professor Lukasz Krakowczyk of the Oncology Center in Gliwice undertook this task.

“One of the elements of preparation for the operation was the making of a physical model of the child’s skull on a 1:1 scale.

“The doctors were looking for a contractor who, like them, would be ready to act promptly. The team of the e-Nable Poland Foundation: Krzysztof Grandys and Pawe Ozga, as well as the Sygnis SA company, rose to the challenge.

“Thanks to the cooperation of all parties, a pre-operative 3D printout of the newborn’s skull was created in record time, based on which doctors were able to predict the conditions during the baby’s surgery.

‘On February 28, we received information that the operation was successful and the patient was discharged from the hospital. The 3D printouts went to the archive of the surgical case and are part of the doctor’s work and practice in similar cases.”

Speaking about the procedure and the 3-D printed skull, Prof. Lukasz Krakowczyk, MD (the surgeon in charge of the operation), said that imaging studies were useful for determining the skull bone defect.

He added: “They did not perfectly coincide with the skin defect, which is why printing the model was so important. 3D printing will also be essential at the stage of reconstruction of the skull bone defect when the need for perfect alignment and planning of the bone reconstruction will occur.”

The child, whose mother wants to remain anonymous, faces several more treatments in the future. The additional procedures will be required as the bones of the child’s skull evolve as she grows.

Medical advancements such as the 3-D printed skull that saved the child’s life are allowing doctors to practise complex operations raising the chances of survival and limiting the impact on patients.


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Written by

Peter McLaren-Kennedy

Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]

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