This holiday season, I have a personal reason to be thankful for the world of plastics.
On Aug. 1, my 17-year-old son Dane had major reconstructive surgery on his jaw. Dane was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and has needed several surgeries over the years. Hopefully, this will be his last major one.
To prepare for the surgery, Dr. Anand Kumar of University Hospitals of Cleveland used three 3D plastic models made by 3D Systems Inc. of Rock Hill, S.C. These models were made using x-rays of Dane's jaw and allowed Dr. Kumar to decide what needed to be done and how to do it.
The surgery took several hours and Dane was in the hospital for several days afterward. Dr. Kumar has said the surgery was a success and that he's happy with the results.
The changes to Dane's face are clearly visible. Both parts of his jaw now are even, whereas before his lower jaw was more pronounced. I asked Dr. Kumar about the process in an email, and he responded that he often uses medical modeling.
“There is great evidence that [virtual surgical planning] has greatly decreased pre-surgery preparation time and improved reproducibility in multi-segment jaw surgery,” he wrote. Dr. Kumar added that modeling “is also a great patient education tool.”