How Debbie Hawkins received a 3D printed jaw…

Debbie Hawkins, a patient from Morriston Hospital in Wales received a 3D printed jaw…a premiere in the history.

It all began when our retail worker started to develop a growing tumour in her lower jawbone which was about to break her jawbone.

After several consultations, doctors from Morriston Hospital realized none of their traditional methods could have repaired her jaw.

Photo via NHS Wales.

The need of a more innovative method

Notice is to be made that the conventional procedure consists in taking bone from the patient’s fibula (thigh bone). Thereafter, in order to keep the aesthetic shape of the jaw, the bone graft must be placed lower than the jawbone used to be, too low for dental implants.

Furthermore, to enable dental implants to be well in line with the jawline, specialists need to set the bone graft higher than the natural position of the jaw. However, the natural shape would be wasted.  

Last, the remaining solution to fix her jaw was too risky since it made accuracy during the operation very difficult.

That’s why, a 3D scanning was first necessary to have a detailed overview of the situation and how the operation should be carried out. Doctors then combined bone grafts and 3D printed titanium plates customized to fit the patient’s anatomy.

When they told me what the procedure involved I was scared at first,Hawkins told press. “I really didn’t know what to expect. But what they have done, and the aftercare I have received, has been absolutely amazing.”

Peter Llewelyn Evans, Maxillofacial Laboratory Services manager at Morriston Hospital, said “the titanium implant fits the patient’s jaw perfectly without the surgeon having to do any adjustment.”

As for the patient’s consultant surgeon Madhav Kittur, he noticed that this approach “has taken away the uncertainty”; “we know exactly what is going to happen before we go into theater as everything is computer planned.”

Surgeon Madhav Kittur with patient Deborah Hawkins.

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