Colombian researchers have developed biocompatible implants for patients who have suffered severe head injuries.
The scientific breakthrough was made at the EAFIT and CES Universities in Medellin and is nicknamed Smartbone. It involves using software to create a three-dimensional reconstruction of the patient’s tomogram – the 3D image of their skull compiled using separate X-rays. The resulting prosthesis replaces the damaged part of the skull.
Lead researcher Santiago Correa said that the surgery, which lasts between 45 minutes to an hour, “reduces surgical risks, the time spent under anaesthesia, and the risks of bleeding and infection.”
The Smartbone implant will also be around 50 to 60 percent cheaper than the current skull prostheses, Correa estimated.
This advance allows bio-engineers to create the prosthesis in a separate space with “the best possible aseptic conditions.” Correa added that the current practice was to create the prosthesis in the same room in which the patient was undergoing the operation.
Since last April six head-trauma patients have been operated on in Medellin with success. The implants are not rejected because they are biocompatible.
Several institutions, including the Colombia government, have invested almost $700,000 in the project since 2010. The hope is that the new technology will serve an international market. Currently 85% of cranial implants are made in the United States, who make a fortune exporting them around the world.
There are at least 350 cases of severe head-trauma in Colombia every year.