3D printing in surgery: AIIMS introduces new jaw joint replacement
3D printing in surgery: AIIMS introduces new jaw joint replacement The jaw joint is the most used joint in the body. Medically known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), it is the single joint in the face that helps in the opening and closing of the mouth, chewing and even breathing. The joint is located in front of the ear opening
The jaw joint is the most used joints in the body. Medically known as the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), it is the single joint in the face that helps in the opening and closing of the mouth, chewing and even breathing. The joint is located in front of the ear opening. You can feel the joint by placing your index finger in front of your ears, followed by opening and closing your mouth.
Any injury to this joint can make it impossible for you to even open your mouth. The surgeries to replace the damaged joints are extremely complex and highly expensive.
All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, in their three days Total TMJ Replacement Workshop, 2020, introduced patient-specific artificial jaw-joint replacement with the help of 3D printing technology.
The jaw-joint replacement surgery
Dr Ajoy Roy Choudhury, the head of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, AIIMS, stated that the jaw joint deformities can be seen in cases of trauma, disease or an infection, or the joint bone can go congenitally missing. A deformed jaw joint can be extremely painful and can decrease the quality of life, if not treated.
He further stated that the TMJ replacement surgery is a complex procedure where the damaged part of the jaw is replaced with an artificial joint. Since every jaw bone is different, the drawback of this surgery was the improper size of the artificial joint which had to be replaced with the damaged one.
These artificial jaw joints increased the duration of the surgery and were also highly expensive. He further added that due to the high cost, underprivileged people were unable to get their treatment done and suffer throughout their lives.
The 3D printing technology
In their 2nd Total TMJ Replacement Workshop, AIIMS introduced customised jaw joints for the required patients, created with the help of a 3D printer. The jaw joints were fabricated in the 3D printer after taking a series of CT scans. AIIMS is the only organization in India which is providing 3D printed patient customised jaws for replacement.
The surgeons from the dental department at AIIMS trained dental surgeons, maxillofacial surgeons and plastic surgeons from all over the country through live surgery demonstrations and made them practise on cadavers.
Dr Choudhury stated that the customised jaw joints effectively reduced the operating time and are comparatively cheaper. He further added that economically weak section of the society can also benefit from this as the surgery is being included in the Rashtriya Arogya Nidhi (RAN) scheme.
The RAN scheme, introduced in the year 1997, aimed at providing medical treatment to people living below the poverty line and suffering from life-threatening diseases at any government or super speciality hospital.
For more information, read our article on Injury: Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment.
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