An American doctor has succeeded in implanting an ear made by a 3D printer for a patient suffering from microscopic ear, a developmental problem in the outer ear. This is the first in the world that opens the way for other transplants of this type.
TheMedicine is constantly making progress, and technology is often not to blame. Also thanks to her, a team from Arturo Bonilla, founder of an institute specializing in the treatment of external ear abnormalities in Texas, was able on Thursday, June 2, to make a human ear made of cells using a 3D printer. This was transplanted to a patient, according toFrance Press agency resumed by TF1. This process aims to evaluate the safety and efficacy of this type of implant, the first of its kind in the world. If successful, it will provide implants for people with small ears, a condition in which the outer ear does not develop properly.
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How is a 3D printed ear designed?
If this sounds like a scenario from a science fiction movie, it is nonetheless the reality. The team of specialists has already managed to make a human ear using a 3D printer. For this, she created a 3D impression of the patient’s fully developed ear and collected chondrocytes from his ear. Next, doctors set out to culture them so that they would breed to get enough material to reproduce a full ear. Finally, the cartilage cells were mixed with a collagen hydrogel, which enables the final solution of the implant glue. For greater rigidity, the latter is enclosed in a printed and biodegradable shell, which is eventually absorbed by the patient’s body.
The major revolution in this technology lies in the final rendering of the ear from an aesthetic point of view. In fact, after some time, the graft will become as flexible as a normal ear, will look like it and give the same sensation to touch.
A protocol that is less complex than current treatments
If the 15 clinical trials with this implant are successful, it will be a relief to many patients with pinna-auricular pain. Indeed, if they can live normally with this disease, some do not support the view of others and complicate them about their deformity. The prospect of solving this problem is encouraged by Dr. Arturo Bonilla: “As a physician who has treated thousands of children with small ears across the country and the world, I am passionate about this technology and what it can mean for patients and their families.”
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The protocol implemented by Arturo Bonilla also has another advantage for patients: it is lighter than the two current treatments. The first is to take cartilage from the patient’s rib so that he can form the prosthesis. The second will extract from the body a material called porous polyethylene intended to manufacture an implant, which is less flexible than those tested today, according to the specialist.
3D printing of human implants can subsequently be used for various cartilage diseases such as defects, injuries to the nose, breast reconstruction or damaged meniscus in the knee.
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