Doctors at the SIMS Hospital here have carried out three complex total jaw joint replacement surgeries, of which one involved the use of artificial jaws made using 3D printing technology.
K. Sridhar, Director, Institute of Craniofacial, Aesthetic and Plastic Surgery at the hospital, said that while hip and knee replacements were common, replacement of the temporomandibular joints (TM joints or jaw joints), particularly with the use of 3D printing, was rare.
Moreover, he said, these three cases presented unique challenges in which a straightforward jaw joint replacement was not possible.
Of the three cases, the one that used 3D-printed artificial jaws involved a patient whose one half of the jaw, the TM joint and the adjoining facial bones were removed 20 years ago because of a bone tumour.
“This patient required a custom-made jaw joint for replacement. Since no bone was available to fix the joint, the total jaw joint was replaced with artificial jaws made of titanium and polyethylene using 3D printing technology. Since this patient required teeth on one half, we took leg bone and did microsurgery and put in a dental implant at the same time,” he said.
Another case involved a patient who had complete ankylosis, which referred to the immobility of the joint, and as a consequence the patient was suffering from sleep apnoea as well.
Dr. Sridhar said that the surgery had to be done in two stages as his lower jaw did not have any growth because of the ankylosis.
He said the height and length of the lower jaw was increased through a process called distraction that happened over two or three months.
The total jaw joint replacement was done subsequently, he said.
The third patient faced zero jaw opening. The doctor said that in her case the bone taken from a leg and placed at the jaw during an earlier microsurgery performed few years ago at another hospital had fused with the skull bone over time.
“We took out the damaged jaw bone part and replaced it with an artificial part made of titanium,” Dr. Sridhar said.
Sarala, the patient, said she lost hope over the past 10 years as many doctors she consulted said no remedy was possible.
“I underwent many procedures, but nothing helped. I actually came to SIMS Hospital because I had a fever and cold, but that turned out to be life altering,” she said.
Ravi Pachamuthu, Chairman, SRM Group, in a statement, congratulated Dr. Sridhar and the entire medical team for their accomplishment.