Army Hospital uses 3D printing for maxillofacial surgery

Mends jaw with custom-made titanium implant

3D printing
3D printing for maxillofacial surgery. Photo Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

The medical team at Army Dental Centre at Army Hospital Research & Referral (R & R) employed a tailor-made 3D printed titanium implant to reconstruct the jaw of a 26-year-old defence ward, son of a defence personnel posted in Jammu & Kashmir. In a report published in The Times of India, Col Vivek Saxena, head of maxillofacial surgery unit, Army Dental Centre, Army Hospital Research & Referral (R & R), and part of the operating team said, “It involves implanting a 3D printed, customized Titanium bone replacement where mirroring of the normal opposite bone/mandible is done and hence, the fit, comfort, and provision of giving dentures is available which no other technique offers.

“First, there is no donor site morbidity as no bone is taken out from the patient’s body. Second, recovery is faster which is important for soldiers, and third, the cosmetic and functional output is unmatched to earlier procedures.” The patient previously had a tumor in the oral cavity which had entirely destroyed his lower jaw, which had to be removed almost a year ago.

Generally, the maxillofacial reconstruction of the jaw requires using a small section of the bones from the hip or leg which leads to comorbidities in patient mobility. Colonel Saxena further shares that the Army Dental Centre at Army Hospital Research & Referral (R & R) gets about 20 – 25 patients on an annual basis who require maxillofacial surgeries in the face and/or the jaw bone.

NK Sahoo, director general of Army Dental Corps, spearheaded the maxillofacial reconstruction surgery. The team shared that the 3D reconstruction can be useful in mucormycosis complications after suffering from Covid-19. The patient has been discharged from the Army Hospital Research & Referral (R & R) after the surgery.

3D printing for temporomandibular joint (TMJ) replacement in India

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), commonly known as the jaw joint, is placed near the ear opening. The jaw joint is one of the most used joints in the human body and is responsible for opening and closing of the mouth and basic functions such as chewing and eating. A fatal injury to the joint can render a person incapable of opening his/her mouth.

All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) organized a three-day Total TMJ Replacement Workshop in 2020 that introduced customized artificial joint replacement procedure that has recently been made possible through 3D printing. The 3D printer creates the artificial joint implant through a series of CT scans. During the three-day workshop, dental and maxillofacial surgeons from across the nation practiced the procedure on cadavers after a live training session.

Fortis Flt Lt Rajan Dhall Hospital in Vasant Kunj also performed a similar procedure in February 2020 on a 30-year-old oral cancer survivor. SIMS Hospital (SRM Institutes for Medical Science) in Chennai executed a TMJ replacement in August 2021 on three patients.

The application of 3D printing technology for maxillofacial surgery has provided a ray of hope in the lives of oral cancer survivors and accident victims who have lost jaw joint mobility.


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