Shirley Anderson suffering from tongue cancer lost his lower jaw due to side effects of radiation treatments. Compared to other external parts of the body, finding a prosthesis for the jaw is very tough, which made him cover his badly scarred face with a mask.
But now, a team of researchers led by Dr. Travis Bellicchi from the Indiana University School of Dentistry has transformed his life by giving him a 3D-printed jaw.
‘Indiana University researchers gave tongue cancer patient Shirley Anderson a 3D-printed jaw after losing his natural jaw to the side effects of radiation treatments.’
At first, Dr. Bellichi made a traditional prosthesis out of clay, which was heavier and Anderson was not able to wear it for longer hours. Therefore, Bellicchi decided to go for something lighter and that's where digital printing came into the frame.
The 3D-printing technique has gained much momentum in the recent years, where many lives are being saved by developing 3D-printed organs.
This method takes a lot of time, but Dr. Bellichi and his team have created a much faster version called the "Shirley technique". They were able to generate 3d printed organs in a matter of six hours.
Generally, a plastic-casting technique is used to make a mould of the patient's body. But, instead of that, Anderson's face was digitally scanned and then a software tool was used to model a prosthetic jaw. The 3D-printed jaw was very natural and lighter, matching the skin tone of Anderson. Now, Anderson can wear this jaw for longer as it is very comfortable.