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Titanium Skull From 3D Printer Saves Baby

3D printing, a process where a physical object is created from a 3D digital model, is the name of the technology used to create the replacement titanium skull needed for a Chinese toddler’s facial reconstructive surgery.

Han Han, the girl who received the skull, had suffered so much cranial swelling as a result of her medical condition “hydrocephalus” that it was four times larger than it should have been.  Her head accounted for almost half her body weight prior to the operation.

The condition created numerous dangerous symptoms, Russian media outlet RT reported.

The bones of her skull were thin and fragile. The girl also suffers from severe pressure in her head, poor blood supply, blindness, and ulcers on the thinning areas of her cranium.

The hydrocephalus manifested in the girl at birth, and she was officially diagnosed with the disorder at six months of age.  Dr. Bo of the Second People’s Hospital of Hunan Province was quoted by as having said that the results of the CT “showed that Han Han’s brain was filled 80 percent with water” and that she “would not have survived the summer” if she had not been sent to the hospital for treatment.

CT results showed that Han Han’s brain was filled 80 percent with water (…) If she was not sent to hospital for treatment, Han Han would not have survived the summer. We had to first eliminate the infection in Han Han’s head because the brain wound area was too large, and we needed to do skin graft surgery and insert a shunt to help eliminate the infection, and remove the fluid from her brain.

Having successfully received the new skull, Han Han can now perform previously impossible tasks, like lifting her head.  Once fully recovered, the three-year-old girl may be able to perform more complex tasks like going outside to play.

The cost of the surgery was approximately 500,000 Chinese Yuan or approximately $80,000.  The father of the girl was able to collect approximately $16,000 in donations from family and friends.  The remainder of the money was raised through online donations.

The procedure lasted seventeen hours, and was considered a success.  The girl is expected to improve over the coming weeks.

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