One of our big focuses using design thinking is trying to find new ways to use existing technologies to improve healthcare and the lives of people.
This project focuses on a surgery called mandibular reconstruction during which a part of the mandible is removed, leaving a gap in the bone that has to be supported by a metal plate. This plate must be manually bent and re-bent so it fits into the patients jaw just right; this process can take up to 45 minutes and is common practice in most operating rooms.
The original idea for the project came from one of Thomas Jefferson University’s residents Dominic J Gadaleta, who wanted to 3D print models of patient’s mandibles who were undergoing this surgery. By 3D printing a models, they can act as a reference and guide for residents and surgeons to pre-bend plates onto prior to surgery. These metal plates can then be autoclaved, taken into the operating room, and placed in the patients jaw. If changes or alterations needed to be made because the fit wasn’t just right, these adjustments can happen in real time during the surgery. We think by pre-bending the plates, we could hopefully decrease the time in the operating room to adjust or bend the plates, and therefore also decrease time of wound exposure and anesthesia exposure to the patient. We also hope these models can become a useful reference tool for surgeons before the operation as a way to visualize the patient’s anatomy and the potential complications that may occur.
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