Chinese doctors have successfully treated a toddler suffering from congenital hydrocephalus by using a 3D-printed titanium implant to relieve massive swelling in her brain.
Doctors saved the life of a Chinese toddler with a life-threatening birth defect by reshaping her skull using a 3-D printed titanium implant. According to ABC news, the toddler suffered from a rare birth defect that made her head to triple in size.
Hanhan, the brave 3-year-old, underwent surgery to treat congenital hydrocephalus, which leads to fluids building up around the brain. Doctors treated Hanhan at the People’s Hospital of Hunan Province, sources from Reuters and Getty Images report.
Dr. Gregory Lakin, the Chief of Pediatric Plastic Surgery at University Hospital’s Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, Ohio, who was not involved with the surgery, said that the defect occurs when cerebrospinal fluid is prevented from properly draining from the brain.
Dr. Lakin said that in the U.S., it is common for doctors to remove a part of the skull, drain the fluid, and then replace the bone segment. While this method tends to take a long time, it can significantly reduce the risk of infection or the patient rejecting implanted materials.
If the bone isn’t strong enough to use, or if surgeons don’t think it’s the best idea to conduct a lengthy operation, they will typically use an implant instead. Implants are now more advanced than ever, and can be printed to exact specifications.
The implant was used in Hanhan’s case because she was three, and her brain had likely finished the majority of its growth. There was a low risk of Hanhan’s body rejecting the foreign material, doctors reported.
The operation draining cerebrospinal fluid from Hanhan’s brain was a success, and she can now lead a normal life, playing outside and not needing to worry about the risk of brain damage in the future.