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Doctors bring cutting edge technology to cranioplasty

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CAPTION The titanium implant has been fixed to the skull
CAPTION The titanium implant has been fixed to the skull

R. Sujatha

Titanium implants to fill holes in the skull a novel method: expert

CHENNAI: Two men underwent surgeries recently to fill holes in their skull at a private hospital in Coimbatore using technology currently limited to in hospitals in the United States, Europe and Australia.

Doctors, who fixed perforated titanium plate prostheses to the skulls, damaged in a road accident in one case and a brain stroke in the other. said the surgery was cosmetic in nature. The patients have now returned to their routines.

In the case of a 35-year-old man, whose skull was crushed in an accident eight months ago, doctors patched up the damaged area with a covering of skin. In the other case, the skull of a 55-year-old man who suffered a stroke was drilled to remove a blood clot. In the process, he lost a large portion of his skull.

Traditionally, in cranioplasty,bone pieces are grafted from the patient's rib cage or hip and a prosthesis is designed in the operation theatre with the patient under general anaesthesia. As the prosthesis is handmade, its design can be cosmetically imperfect and there is also the fear of bone resorption after the implant. Surgeons have been using computers to design and make polymethyl metha acrylate implants, but titanium scores over PMMA as it is MRI-compatible, irritant-free and does not produce secondary infection. Neurosurgeon J.K.B.C. Parthiban from the Coimbatore hospital mailed the X-Ray and CT scans of the patients to a Chennai-based researcher Jayanthi Parthasarathy.

Using rapid prototyping technology, she developed a 3D model of the damaged skull on the computer. She then developed the titanium prosthesis. A fortnight later, Dr. Parthiban implanted them on his patients in surgeries lasting 45 minutes each. A Chennai-based senior neurosurgeon A.V. Srinivasan said titanium plates were currently used for cervical spine injury, but using the metal for skull was novel. Dr. Parthasarathy says making 3D models of the entire skull may be necessary only for a few cases.

With experience in designing templates, only the damaged portion may have to be designed, saving time and cost. She can be contacted at: 98401-43616/044-24343616.

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