Plastic skulls to treat head injuries
This is what recent research suggests, as a team of physicians, researchers and designers have succeeded in developing a special skull prosthesis made of plastics. The latter should help save patients suffering from head injuries, which affect over half of all victims of car accidents and have been identified as the principal cause of death amongst adolescents.
Depending on the severity of the accident, head injuries can affect areas that vary both in size and from one patient to another. "Customised" implants are therefore vital and can now be produced thanks to plastics. With the help of laser technology, patient-specific lattice structure, made of plastics and covering only the affected areas of the skull, will now be produced. This special layer construction method allows for the creation of more complex structures which better stimulate bone recovery compared to conventionally-manufactured implants.
The production of the brand new prosthesis is automated and can be done within a few hours. The surgeon only needs to send the patient's MRI scan to a computer which then takes over the operation. Such a manufacturing process makes surgery more predictable and shorter, saves materials and has a unqiue capacity to answer specific patient needs.
Research on a new skull prosthesis notably aimed to solve issues encountered with conventional materials which were sometimes too expensive and time consuming. The choice of plastics is due to the material's reduced weight, strength and biocompatibility, as well as its permeability to CT, MRI and X-rays. Furthermore, it can easily be processed in a laser-sintering system. These features make plastics ideal for the development of cranial implants and key to patients' lives.