3D Printed Biomodels and Eye Orbit Implants

A partnership between two CDHB specialists and the Medical Physics Bio-engineering (MPBE) team has resulted in fewer return trips to the theatre for patients and savings of around $100,000.

Up until 2013 eye socket implants (to repair fractures caused by injury) were sourced from external engineering companies. The models were made locally and each one cost around $800. There was also a delay for the models to be made and returned to CDHB. Then the pre-bent socket plates were ordered from Europe. This cost an additional $1,000 per patient.

Jason Erasmus (Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon) and Chris Lim (OMS Registrar) resolved to find a more economical and efficient way to meet this need. On hearing that the University of Canterbury had a 3D printer that could potentially make the custom models they requested funds to purchase a 3D printer for their department.

Then they discovered that our MPBE team already had one.

Jason and his team began working with Steven Muir from MPBE in early 2013 to produce their own custom models. Now the process is all in-house.

Images are taken of a person’s eye fracture and software used to produce a model via the MPBE 3D printer. The model is then used to customise a locally manufactured titanium orbital plate.

Jason and Chris are also using inter-operative CT scanning to decrease theatre time and drastically cut the readmission of patients for fine-tuning of their implant.

Traditionally, and still if the patient is being operated on at Christchurch Hospital, the patient receives eye socket surgery then gets a CT scan the following day to see if the implant was fitted correctly. If it wasn’t, the patient has to go back into theatre to have the implant adjusted.

Now, if the patient is operated on at Burwood Hospital (which has an in-theatre CT scanner), patients are scanned on the operating table as soon as the implant is fitted. If it is not fitting properly it can be adjusted there and then, before the patient goes into recovery.

“If you add up the savings in production costs and calculate the savings in theatre time the average cost for each patient is reduced by $2,500 - $3,000. We’ve done forty operations over the last 18 months at Burwood Hospital using these new technologies. None of these patients have had to return to surgery for adjustment. We estimate we’ve saved more than $100,000 and saved our patients time, risk of another anaesthetic, inconvenience and extended recovery time,” says Jason.

Page last reviewed: 12 June 2015
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