Germany’s Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH), an independent non-profit research institute based in Hannover, has announced it has been developing Additive Manufacturing technology to help with a number of medical procedures.
One of the projects reported is the use of Additive Manufacturing (AM) to simulate the procedure for surgeons working on hearing impaired patients. Inserting an implant into the tiny cochlea requires utmost care and during the operation the surgeon runs the risk of destroying intact sensory cells, which could result in further deterioration of the patients hearing.
The micrometer-small cochlea replicas that the surgeons use to practice the procedure are manufactured by the LZH’s Photonic System Technology Group using AM technology. The Surface Technology Group at LZH, in cooperation with the Hannover Medical School (MHH), is also developing implants that change their shape due to temperature changes during the surgery, thus making the insertion much easier.
In another project, AM has been used for producing temporary magnesium scaffolds. These magnesium scaffolds, once implanted, are slowly and gradually decomposed by the human body. The scaffolds are particularly suited for reconstructing defects of the facial skull because their shape can be matched to the face of the patient. Directly after the surgery the bioresorbable implants stabilise the tissue above. Over time they make room for new bone cell growth.