Researchers develop new method for individually adapted implants

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Researchers at Mid Sweden University, together with Professor Jan Hirsch and Consultant Per Dérand, oral & maxillofacial surgeons at Uppsala University Hospital and Mälarsjukhuset Hospital, respectively, have developed an entirely new method for individually adapted implants. The method provides better patient safety and lower costs. It involves planning, design, and production. At the end of October the first implants were operated in at University Hospital in Uppsala.

"With individually adapted implants, you minimize the time needed for adjustment and adaptation of the implant during the operation itself. Work that was previously done during the operation is now done in advance, on a computer. This means that the operation time can be reduced. But the hypoxia time, that is, the time the transplant has no supply of oxygen, is reduced for the transplant in that it is finished before the blood circulation is cut off. With this type of digital planning and production method we also see a potential for making entirely new types of implants and prostheses that don't exist today," says Lars-Erik Rännar, who does research in sports technology at Mid Sweden University.

In brief, the method involves planning complicated jaw reconstruction in advance, using a computer. The patient's anatomy is determined with the use of x-rays, with the images forming the basis of a three-dimensional model of the patient. With the help of the model, the operation is planned, along with the design of the implant and other aids that are needed for the operation. The digital models are then used as a basis for manufacturing the implant at Mid Sweden University's laboratory for additive manufacturing technology, which is unique in the world. The technology functions like a three-dimensional printer where the results are solid details made of bio-compatible titanium.

"When it comes to medical applications, we have previously worked with design and production methods for hip implants," says Lars-Erik Rännar. "What's special about this project is that we have arrived at a well-developed method very quickly, and everyone involved believes it has a very exciting future. The benefits for patients and caregivers are tremendous."

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