Method of producing exact models of skull defects which enable technicians to create exactly matching titanium plates

The work of a student at the University of Ulster has had a direct effect on the treatment of patients requiring head and facial surgery.

Dr John Winder, who was awarded a PhD today, has, through his research, led to a change in clinical practice in two areas – the treatment of cranial defects and in the computer-based planning of bone surgery in the head and facial areas.

His specialty is medical imaging and since moving to the University he, along with colleagues in the Faculty of Engineering, has developed a method of producing exact models of skull defects which enable technicians to create exactly matching titanium plates. These plates are then fitted to the patient by a neurosurgeon.

A graduate of the Ulster Polytechnic – the forerunner of the University of Ulster – east Belfast man Dr Winder obtained a MSc in Physics at the University of Wales before beginning a career as a principal clinical scientist with the NI Medical Physics Agency based at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

He worked there for 14 years before taking up a post at the University of Ulster as a lecturer in medical imaging and also carrying out his PhD research. He intends to continue with his teaching and research at UU.

His thesis demonstrated his research and development in the fields of 3D medical image data acquisition, image display, tissue volume measurement and the physical modeling of human anatomy.

The contribution of the work to research is in the development of objective methods of human tissue volume measurement; a new method of producing accurate custom made titanium cranioplasty; novel methods of reducing the cost of rapid prototyped models; the development of a one-step neurosurgical treatment of fibrous dysplasia of the skull and the development of an aorta aneurysm/stent phantom for a CT scanner.

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