This Australian medical startup 3D-printed and implanted a titanium jaw joint

Surgical 3D-printed jaw joint. Photo: Supplied

Australian startup 3D Medical (3DM) developed and printed a customised titanium jaw joint which was successfully used in surgery to correct a rare jaw deformity.

An Australian man underwent five hours of surgery at Epworth-Freemasons Hospital in Melbourne. The 32-year-old, who was missing his left temporomandibular jaw joint, had a skewed lower face and limited jaw opening.

The corrective implant was fitted to the mandible — the largest and strongest bone in the face which forms the lower jaw and holds teeth in place.

The medical startup sought the necessary approvals from hospitals, clinicians, healthcare suppliers and a health insurer, who covered the cost of the surgery.

3DM created the joint with the help of oral surgeon Dr George Dimitroulis, using computed tomography scans and a test version of the patient’s skull.

“We are at the crossroads of an exciting era of customised medical devices that will become an integral part of healthcare in the 21st Century,” Dr Dimitroulis said.

Dr Nigel Finch, chairman of 3DM, said the successful outcome “not only achieves a fantastic result for the patient but it also serves to validate the end-to-end business model of 3DM in designing and developing custom implants”.

3DM expects to see an increase in these types of cases as clinicians use data-rich medical images in patient diagnosis to further utilise 3D-printing options.

Last year, scientists replaced a boy’s vertebra with a 3D-printed bone — the first surgery of its kind ever performed.

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