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3D Printed Materials for Reconstruction And Plastic Surgery


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Gelatine-based materials have several advantages, including simple production, non-toxic, low cost, biodegradable, and promote cell growth. Surgeons can make an implant of this material, place it into a wound, and over time, the body will gradually break it down and replace it with its own tissue. These materials help speed wound healing and can reshape tissue, such as breast reconstruction after a mastectomy. Now, thanks to 3D printing technology, these materials can be tailored to each patient, bringing even more possibilities to the medical field.0229-3

Research from IOCB in Prague and Ghent University has enabled more personalized plastic surgery through 3D printing of gelatin-based materials. However, according to the researchers, until now it has been difficult to track the breakdown of these materials in the body using traditional imaging methods, which is exactly the obstacle that the researchers at IOCB in Prague are working to overcome. Radiopaque (i.e., X-ray contrast) agents newly added to the material make it easy to track how quickly the implants are absorbed and whether they are intact or damaged.


Ond R ej Groborz of the oma? Slanina (Photoredox Chemistry Group) research team explains: "A series of academic papers are currently being written on this topic. The first of these introduced a gelatin-based material that could be monitored using magnetic resonance imaging. In our second article, recently published in Applied Engineering Materials, we give the material X-ray and CT detectability.


The image on the left shows a cross-section of a rat near the waist using conventional hydrogen magnetic resonance imaging (¹H MRI), where different colored arrows point to different types of implants. Through the use of fluoroimaging technology (¹⁹F MRI), particular emphasis is placed on newer implants containing fluorine, while older implants are not visible due to their lack of fluorine. The image on the right provides a detailed view of the implant by combining images from both imaging techniques, including its size, shape, and exact position in the anatomy, a multimodal imaging approach that provides richer and more precise information for research.

This improvement allows us to monitor these implants over time and to observe and detect their biodegradation and possible mechanical failures. Based on the data obtained, the biodegradation of the implant can be customized to meet specific clinical requirements, as human tissues grow at different rates and the characteristics of the implant need to be adapted to them. The researchers aim to make these implants biodegrade at the same rate as healthy tissue grows.

Ond R ej Groborz collaborated with Ghent University's Polymer Chemistry and Biomaterials Group (PBM) on this research. The collaboration between Prague IOCB and Ghent University also has the potential to extend to the commercial sector, as the two research institutions have filed a joint patent application for the application of the said material in plastic surgery.

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