Doctors use 3-D printed implant to reshape skull of baby girl with rare defect

20 July 2015

A team of doctors in China implanted a 3-D printed titanium implant to a baby girl's skull to reshape it, correcting a birth defect known as 'hydrocephalus.'

The condition causes abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid in the brain, resulting in excessive brain swelling.

Reuters reported that Hanhan, underwent surgery for treatment of congenital hydrocephalus, a condition in which fluid builds up around the brain. According to Getty Images doctors operated on Hanhan at the 'People's Hospital of Hunan Province'.

According to the chief of Paediatric Plastic Surgery, Dr Gregory Lakin, at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital in Cleveland, such rare conditions occurred when the cerebrospinal fluid failed to drain properly from the skull.

Lakin told ABC News that if it did not drain properly, it led to problems with the head. He added it would push out on the bone, and cause additional strain on the brain.

According to Lakin, who did not treat Hanhan, in the US most doctors removed part of the skull, drained the fluid and then reimplanted the piece of skull bone, in which case the operation could be longer but the patient would be less likely to develop infection or rejection of the material.

He added if the bone was not strong enough to use or if surgeons were concerned about conducting a long operation, they might instead use a 3-D implant.

Lakin said the implant could be used because at age 3, Hanhan's brain would be almost done growing and the implant would likely not affect the growth.

With the operation successful, the baby is expected to soon recover.

According to People's Online Daily, doctors worked on Hanhan for 17 hours.

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