Chinese Man Loses Half His Skull in Fall – Doctors to Return Him to Normal with 3D Printed Titanium Mesh

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head1It’s the greatest fear of them all, for the wives and family members of construction workers, police officers, firemen, and military servicemen. Each year, thousands of blue collar workers are severely hurt, and many times killed in work related accidents. These accidents occur at random and oftentimes there is no one at fault.

For a 46-year old Chinese man, named Hu, he was just going about a typical job on a construction site about 10 months ago, when he fell 3 stories to the ground, severely damaging his head, skull, and brain. Hu was left with a disfigured upper portion of his head, as a large portion of his brain and skull were completely removed. People in his neighborhood would jokingly call him ‘Half Headman’, and he had become the brute of some other jokes. All in all, Hu had lost a 14cm × 9cm section of his skull.

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Because of brain damage that he suffered, Hu has severe vision damage, particularly in his left eye, and also can not write or speak. However, his wife says that he can understand what people are saying to and about him. The part of his brain responsible for walking was mostly unaffected, so he has little problem getting around.

Doctors at the Xijing Hospital, located in the ancient Chinese city of Xi’an, have determined that Hu is suffering from post-traumatic skull defects, traumatic aphasia, limited motor function, left ptosis with vision loss, and traumatic aphasia. He is also experiencing a severe case of double vision, referred to as diplopia.

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Surgion MaoGuo Shu, of Xijing Hospital, who has seen a vast array of head and skull injuries, says that cases like Hu’s are very rare, and finding a solution to fix the damaged skull is very complex and difficult. To try and come up with a solution, the hospital brought in dozens of experts in the field. What they came up with was an idea for a 3D printed titanium mesh which would cover Hu’s brain and help make his skull look normal again. Thankfully for Hu, he won’t have to pay a dime for the surgery, as the hospital is covering the cost, and an American company, Stryker has agreed to pay for the 3D printing and materials used in the printing process.

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Titanium 3D printed mesh

Early this morning (Chinese time), Hu went in to have the much awaited surgery performed on him. Doctors hope that all goes well, but like with any major surgery, there are always risks involved. One of these risks is when the surgeons must separate the scalp from the meninges (protective membranes that cover the brain) which have healed together after the accident. They must do this in a way so that the brain is not damaged. Titanium mesh usually is accepted quite nicely by the body’s immune system, but in some rare cases the body will reject the material. Surgeons hope that Hu is not one of these individuals.

head9As far as recovery goes, the mesh should return the appearance of Hu’s skull back to the way it was prior to the accident. That means, no more “half headman” jokes, and no more surprised looks from strangers when they see him. Also, doctors believe that with the additional space in Hu’s head, the brain will have room to gradually regenerate itself. It is expected that Hu will recover his ability to speak and write, when this happens.

The use of 3D printing in this case is extremely important. It has allowed doctors to take a scan of Hu’s head and 3D print a titanium mesh using his right side as a template. When implanted, this will allow for a perfect symmetrical appearance.

This is just one of the modern ways that surgery can now be performed, thanks in a large part to 3D printing technology. It should be interesting to see photos of Hu, post surgery, and once he is heeled. What do you think about this incredible story? Discuss in the “3D Printed Titanium Mesh forum” thread on 3DPB.com.

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[source: people.com.cn]
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