Faridabad resident Prabhjeet, an oral cancer survivor, lost the right half of his jaw bone seven years back. In all those years he lived on a liquid diet, until 3D printing came to his rescue.
Doctors at Fortis Hospital in the capital performed a first-of-its-kind jaw reconstruction surgery on Prabhjeet with a 3D-printed titanium jaw in January this year.
Today, Prabhjeet is a happy man and has begun eating normal food, including non-vegetarian and spicy cuisine.
"After I was diagnosed with oral cancer seven years back, I got treated at Fortis and the right side of the jaw was removed. Initially, I was not sure about the 3D printed jaw but when doctors convinced me, I decided to go for it. Now, I can say that it was a right choice," Prabhjeet told IANS.
"Post-surgery, I was discharged after a week's stay at the hospital. Initially, I was put on a liquid and soft diet for the 3D-printed jaw to get optimised and integrated well. Today, I can taste and chew food of my choice," he added.
The doctors used titanium metal 3D printer from UK-based Renishaw company to construct and customise the jaw for Prabhjeet.
"The right half of his jaw bone was removed during a surgery along with temporomandibular (TM) joint to cure him of cancer. The TM joint controls the mobility of the jaw. Over the years, his residual mandible deviated which prevented the lower and upper jaw to meet," said Dr Mandeep Singh Malhotra who performed the surgery.
The surgery, which costs around Rs 3-Rs 4 lakh, lasted for around 8 hours.
"The oral cancer affected Prabhjeet as he could not chew or bite his meals. Furthermore, it caused repeated bite ulcers in his cheek leading to pain and fear of cancer relapse," Malhotra told IANS.
Prabhjeet also has an underlying chronic disease in the form of SLE (Sytemic Lupus Erythematosis) that affects immunity.
"The underlying SLE disease and reconstruction of the TM joint discouraged us from planning the conventional methodology of using one's own lower leg bone in the form of Fibula to reconstruct the jaw bone," Malhotra said.
The doctors then decided to use the metal additive manufacturing (3D printing).
"We thought of using 3D-printing technology to develop a complete prosthetic jaw including the joint component using Titanium which is the most biocompatible and light metal," Malhotra said.
On the reconstruction surgery, the doctors said that the trial models for the prosthetic mandible were revised at different time intervals as the jaws got aligned.
"This process extended across 9 months. We put in exhaustive efforts to achieve the right alignment. Our effort was to make the new jaw better than the normal," Malhotra told IANS.
The 3D printing technology has myriad benefits for the healthcare sector in India.
In 2017, surgeons at the Bone & Joint Institute in Medanta hospital successfully implanted a 3D-printed vertebrae in a 32-year-old woman, helping her walk again after a bout of disabling spinal tuberculosis.
According to Rajat Mehta, Country Manager, 3D Printing and Digital Manufacturing, HP Inc. India, the healthcare industry has been an early adopter of 3D printing technology.
"Some of the current applications include skull patches, hearing aids, custom orthotics, prosthetics, insoles, and surgical planning. Leading hospitals are adopting integrated 3D printing services as part of their medical practices as they recognize the added value it brings to personalized patient care," Mehta told IANS.
According to Malhotra, a 3D-printed jaw is a godsend for people with oral cancer in India.
"It is cost-effective and now even All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has introduced this technology," said Malhotra.