3D Printing: The Answer to Cranium Fracture?

New Emergency Technology Possible

In the event of cranium fractures, such as traumatic injuries sustained from vehicular accidents or from acts of violence, treatment and healing are going to be huge challenges. There may be instances of large missing bone volume and that to customize a fit requires a long time. Further to that, there might be improper healing which in turn may lead to revision surgeries.

While typically, metal or plastic implants are used as replacements, customization time should be reduced and the implantable bone scaffolds must have improved accuracies. Also, the scaffolding used must have the properties of enhancing tissue regeneration and growth. All these factors must come together for proper healing.

From the International & American Associations for Dental Research comes a study where 3D printed replacement scaffolds are seen to overcome the aforementioned challenges. The goal is to heal the defect or fracture site rapidly. In their laboratory, several nanobiosilica-based 3D scaffolds with adequate 3D printing properties were tested. A human periosteum cell culture model and a rat cranial defect animal model were used to illustrate the efficacy of the scaffold. The biopolymer scaffold and the printing ink were prepared, a cross-linking agent was used. The scaffold was 3D-printed directly into the bone defects, using concentrations for optimal bone density and chemical structure.

Four weeks later, scans showed nearly 55% of bone defect healing observed, which was the higher healing specimen because it had more biopolymer than the other which had lower concentrations. For controls that were empty, only 11% of the defect filled with bone after four weeks. Histologically observed, the scaffolds recruited cells into their structure to regenerate the intra-bony layers needed to initiate the healing process.

Concluding now, 3D in-situ printing of bone-regenerating scaffolds improve the delivery of biomedical devices for the proper and rapid healing of bone fractures. This method made possible the absorption of blood and growth factors into the scaffold, incorporating well into the printed structural support that stimulates healing. The method also potentially improves implantability and rapid bone healing capability. In the future, these methods can become outpatient procedures with reduced medical expenses owed to extended hospital stays.

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