A team of Italian surgeons has managed to reconstruct the ear of a boy affected by a rare disease using a model made with a 3D printer, a hospital in Florence said in a statement on Tuesday.
The 13-year-old suffers from microtia, a congenital deformity that leaves patients with no outer ears.
It affects 5 in 10,000 newborns, the Meyer children’s hospital said.
His new, artificial ear was made from cartilage removed from his rib cage, but doctors composed it using a 3D-printed specimen whose shape was copied from the boy’s mother.
This new technology, used in Italy for the first time, leads to more precise results and faster surgery, reducing the time the patient needs to be kept under anaesthetics, the hospital said.
The boy will in the next few months again undergo surgery to receive a second reconstructed ear, and six other children are on a waiting list for the same procedure.
“For a child, who had such an obvious malformation, (this kind of plastic surgery) has great psychological and social benefits,” lead surgeon Flavio Facchini said.
The patient, who was operated on “had no hearing problems, but the malformation was a great source of distress for him,” the doctor added.