A pioneering surgical procedure using 3D-printed middle ear bones may be the answer to conductive hearing loss, the South African government has announced.
The procedure was developed by Professor Mashudu Tshifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria (UP) Faculty of Health.
Conductive hearing loss is a middle ear problem caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases.
The successful transplant surgery was performed last month on a 35-year-old man whose middle ear was completely damaged in a car accident, allowing him to hear again.
The procedure effectively replaces the hammer, anvil and stirrup, the ossicles (smallest bones in the body) that make up the middle ear. 3D-printing technology was used to print the bones, and then used in the surgery to reconstruct the ossicles.
“By replacing only the ossicles that aren’t functioning properly, the procedure carries significantly less risk than known prostheses and their associated surgical procedures,” Professor Tshifularo explained.