The Imaging & 3D Printing Behind the World’s First Face and Double Hand Transplant

by | Mar 10, 2021

Last month, after 23-hours of surgery, the world’s first face and double hand transplant was completed. The successful surgery was led by Dr Eduardo D. Rodriguez and an operating room team of 80 in NYU Langone’s Kimmel Pavilion. It involved six surgical teams – one for each hand and another for the face of both the donor and DiMeo. And it wouldn’t have been possible without the use of imaging and 3D Printing technologies.

Although not present in the room, medical imaging and 3D Printing were essential to the procedure. Materialise, the Belgian software solutions and 3D printing services company coordinated the development of a surgical plan and created an on-screen 3D model based on CT-scans.

The 3D model allowed the surgeons and clinical engineers to virtually plan the procedure and visualize different scenarios in three dimensions, creating an in-depth understanding of the anatomical bone structure and determining the optimal surgical flow. Pre-surgical planning also made it possible for surgeons to virtually select and position various medical implants to predict the optimal anatomical fit. Once the surgical plan was finalized, Materialise 3D printed the personalized surgical guides, anatomical models and tools for use during the transplant surgery.

During this momentous procedure, Rodriguez and his surgical team of sixteen used Materialise’s 3D printed cutting and drilling guides. The fully guided system for bone fragment repositioning and fixation was unique to the patient’s anatomy and helped position the medical tools with great precision, reducing the overall surgery time. Additionally, Materialise created 3D printed sterilizable identification tags for nerves and blood vessels, 3D printed models that were used during donor transport, and 3D printed splints, enabling optimal donor hand position during soft tissue reconstruction.

Pre-surgical planning made it possible for surgeons to virtually select and position various medical implants to predict the optimal anatomical fit.“Complex transplant surgery like this brings together a large team of specialists and presents new and unique challenges”, said Dr. Rodriguez. “This demands careful planning and makes timing, efficiency and accuracy absolutely critical. Virtually planning the surgery in 3D and creating 3D printed, patient-specific tools offers additional insights in the pre-operative phase and increased levels of speed and accuracy during a time-critical surgery”.

Materialise has pioneered many leading medical applications of 3D printing and enables researchers, engineers, and clinicians to develop innovative, personalized treatments that help improve and save lives. The Materialise platform of software and services forms the foundation of certified medical 3D printing in clinical and research environments, offering virtual planning software tools, 3D-printed anatomical models, and personalized surgical guides and implants.

“Image-based planning and medical 3D printing have completely revolutionized personalized patient care by providing surgeons with detailed insights and an additional level of confidence before entering the operation room,” says Bryan Crutchfield, Vice President and General Manager – North America. “As a result, leading hospitals are adopting 3D planning and printing services as part of their medical practices because they create a level of predictability that would be impossible to achieve without the use of 3D technologies.”

Materialise recently announced it had added new technology to support left atrium appendage occlusion (LAAO) procedures to its Mimics Enlight cardiovascular planning software suite making it possible to leverage the Mimics Enlight 3D planning technology for this procedure to mitigate risk and improve efficiency.

Find more information about Materialise on their website. Stay up to date with the recent medical and pharmaceutical industry news on MVPro.

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