Technological Innovations in Reconstructive Surgery
Dean Lab focuses on using bone tissue engineering and 3D printing as tools to contribute to the larger field of regenerative medicine. The primary aim of our research is to help reconstructive surgeons and, especially, plastic surgeons. When patients need a portion of their skull reconstructed due to cancer or physical injury, reconstructive and plastic surgeons rely on our technologies to replace the lost portion of bone with an implant. We have developed templates that can be closely matched to the individual patient, providing us with a good idea of how to replace the missing portion of bone. Our patients at the OSU Department of Plastic Surgery are often missing 2-3 inches of bone or more, and we are now able to accurately replace as much as half of a skull.
When I first began my research in regenerative medicine about 20 years ago, the problem we were trying to solve was the number of ill-fitting implants. The common practice was to use a pre-existing implant model and then use moldable material to customize the implant. However, these models ignored the location of the brain and scalp. To solve this problem, my research team and I designed software that kept track of the scalp and the brain as well as the skull, creating the first Computer Aided Design (CAD) software for implants. We began to print individually designed 3D models that could then be recast in an implantable material—though now we can actually print directly in implantable material. The unique approach of our software has since been duplicated because of the valuable results it provides.
—Dr. David Dean, Ph.D.
Please return to our blog soon, when Dr. Dean will discuss two of his lab’s latest projects and reveal his thoughts on the future of regenerative medicine and additive manufacturing.
For more information about Dr. Dean’s contributions, or the Ohio State University Department of Plastic Surgery, please contact us today.