He lost half of his face to cancer

A UK man who lost half of his face to a cancerous tumor can now enjoy the reflection he once saw in the mirror -- thanks to 3D printing

Eric Moger, 60, of Waltham Abbey in Essex, had an aggressive tumor the size of a tennis ball in the left side of his face just beneath the skin just four years ago. He underwent an emergency surgery to have the tumor removed, which was successful.

The downfall to this surgery was that it left a hole in the left side of his face. Moger lost his eye, his cheekbone and most of his jaw. 

Moger, who was planning his wedding with fiancée Karen Hunger when the tumor was discovered, has put his life on hold for four years while battling with cancer and the after effects to his face. He considered plastic surgery, but this wouldn't work since he is currently on chemotherapy and radiotherapy. But now, Moger can resume his pre-cancer lifestyle thanks to a printed version of his face. 

Moger was referred to implant expert Andrew Dawood, who started using 3D printing a couple of years ago to recreate jawbones for medical procedures. Dawood used CT scans and facial scans to get an idea of how Moger should look at the end of the procedure.

With those scans in mind, Dawood used titanium to design a scaffold for the missing bone. He did this using 3D milling, where metal is formed into a certain shape using a computer. The scaffold was put in place using rods, which were surgically implanted into the remaining bone in Moger's face.

From there, a printed model of Moger's skull was used to make a plastic plate, which would create a seal around his mouth -- allowing him to eat and drink normally again. After losing part of his face, Moger was forced to eat and drink through a feeding tube directly to his stomach. 

Computer software then made it possible to create a facial shell out of tough nylon material using 3D printing. A silicon mask, which resembles Moger's face, then covers the shell and is secured with magnets for easy removal when sleeping. 

The end result was a new 3D-printed face and a fresh start for Moger.

“I was amazed at the way it looks,” said Moger. “When I had it in my hand, it was like looking at myself in my hands. When I first put it up to my face, I couldn’t believe how good it looked.

“Before I used to have to hold my hand up to my jaw to keep my face still so I could talk properly and I would have liquid running out the side of my face if I tried to drink. When I had that first glass of water wearing the prosthetic face, nothing came out – it was amazing.”

Doctors and researchers are now looking for ways to print the silicon itself, which would allow for different types of prosthesis for patients. 

Source: The Telegraph

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