Hearing loss could be treated with 3D printed implants – tech2.org

Hearing loss could be treated with 3D printed implants


Within the middle ear of the whole world there are three small bonded bones, known as ossicles, which transmit the vibrations of the eardrum to the cochlea. When these bones are damaged, a condition called ossicular conductive hearing loss occurs. A more effective treatment for him now may be on the way, thanks to 3D printing technology.

Currently, ossicular conductive hearing loss is treated by surgically replacing damaged bones with steel and ceramic prostheses. Each piece is made by hand for the individual patient, in the operating room. Unfortunately, the surgery has a high failure rate, which is probably due to the fact that the prostheses are not exactly the same size as the bones they are replacing.

With that in mind, a team from the University of Maryland led by Dr. Jeffrey D. Hirsch has begun to study the use of 3D printing to create implants that are more of an exact match.

In laboratory experiments, the researchers extracted the medium binding bone in the ossicular chain of three human cadavers, and photographed those bones using a CT scanner (computed tomography). These scans were then used to create resin reproductions of the bones, using a low-cost 3D printer.

When four surgeons were subsequently asked to relate each prosthesis to the particular ossicular chain from which they came, everyone was able to do it correctly. None of the surgeons had prior knowledge of which prosthesis belonged to which corpse.

Scientists now plan to print the implants using biocompatible materials, and are even trying to make them from a cross-linked material in which the stem cells could grow, so the prosthesis would be gradually replaced by bone.

"This study highlights the central strength of 3D printing: the ability to accurately reproduce anatomical relationships in space at a submillimeter level," says Hirsch. "With these models, it's almost a complement."

Source: Radiological Society of North America

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