LONDON – A 3D printer is to be used in surgery of a 2-year-old girl Tessa Evans, from Ireland, suffers from an exceptionally rare medical condition “complete congenital arhinia” meaning she was born without a nose.
Tessa was born without a nose and her parents “Grainne” and “Nathan” decided to do something about it now, rather than wait until she’s older. If they had waited Tessa’s surgery not only would have been much more complicated and aggressive but Tessa would have also had to have gone through her entire childhood and not able to function properly like a normal person.
Arhinia is so rare that there are only 47 cases reported in medical history, and it leaves Tessa with no sense of smell and no sinuses although she can cough, sneeze and catch a cold.
Tessa made headlines last year as her story went viral across the internet.
Now, she has just undergone a pioneering operation to have a mould inserted into her face, to stretch her skin and slowly build the missing facial feature. In an operation carried out at Great Ormond Street Hospital, London, a plastic surgeon used a 3D printer to make a model of Tessa’s skull.
Then, he used a substance like modeling clay to design a small mould that fitted to her face underneath her skin. The custom made implant was then produced in medical grade material, ready for the operation. She will have more surgeries to have the implant replaced as she gets older, so the nose ‘grows’ with her face.
When she is a teenager, she will receive the final prosthesis, which will be done with light and dark shades so it looks like a real body part. It was inserted via an incision behind her hairline, meaning there is no scarring at all on her face.
Tessa’s case is extremely unusual. However this new technology combined with the long standing principle of tissue expansion will help other children with arhinia as the previous options were poor, and involved complex surgeries with higher risk.
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