World’s first surgery with 3D-printed implants made entirely in a hospital

As the first hospital in the world, Skåne University Hospital has 3D printed its own cranioplasty implant. The implant has been successfully received by a patient.

“We are currently evaluating a method for printing cranioplasty implants to that can be used in surgeries. With this method, we will have the entire chain, from designing and printing implants to fitting and surgery, in-hospital”, says Einar Heiberg Brandt, medical engineer in Clinical Physiology and Nuclear Medicine at Skåne University Hospital and Wallenberg Centres for Molecular Medicine.

With the help of CT images, an implant is designed and 3D printed with a specifically adapted and well-tested biocompatible plastic material. The implant is then sterilized at the hospital's sterile center before it is ready for surgery on the patient.

“As far as we know, we are the world’s first to make 3D implants entirely in a hospital, which means that the implants will be better adapted to the patients, right from the start. This will lead to faster surgeries and fewer complications”, Einar Heiberg Brandt says.

Recently, the first surgery was performed with a hospital-printed cranioplasty implant. The surgery was part of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ study.
“The surgery was successful. The patient is a 40-year-old woman who, after an accident, needed a cranioplasty. The study hopes to show that the surgeries can be carried out more quickly and that the risk of infections is reduced. Specifically adapted implants also reduce the risk of skin damage and enable our patients to recover faster”, comments Peter Siesjö, consultant in Neurosurgery and Pain Rehabilitation at Skåne University Hospital and professor at Lund University.
Some of the reasons why a patient needs cranioplasty are injuries, tumors and infections.

Einar Heiberg Brandt identifies many possibilities with the new method.
“This is only the beginning. There are no barriers to writing other types of bone implants.”