Surgical Tribune Europe

Plastic surgeons perform Belgium’s first face transplant

By Surgical Tribune
June 14, 2012

 GHENT, Belgium: A team of plastic surgeons at the Ghent University Hospital has successfully executed Belgium’s first full face transplant. Although it was the world’s 19th face transplant, this was the first time that the complex procedure was fully planned using digital planning and 3-D printing. During the 20-hour-long procedure the patient, who suffered from a large facial defect, received bone, muscles, veins, nerves, and skin from a donor who had just died.

The surgical team was led by Prof. Phillip Blondeel, who resides and practises plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery in both Ghent, Belgium, and Montreux, Switzerland.

Preoperative planning for both the donor and the recipient was completed in collaboration with Materialise’s cranio-maxillo-facial clinical engineers using ProPlan CMF. Using CT data, a digital representation of the patient’s anatomy was created and used in the creation of a detailed plan for the complex procedure.

In order to put the surgical plan into action, anatomical models and patient-specific surgical guides were 3-D printed for use before and during the operation. The anatomical models allowed the surgeons to see below the skin of both the patient and the donor and carry out advanced preparation. The 3-D printed guides were also used during the procedure itself to aid the surgeons in realising the surgical plan.

“The entire CMF team at Materialise is proud of the contribution they have made to this incredible milestone in Belgian medical history,” Materialise stated in a press release. “Materialise would like to congratulate the team of 65 surgeons and medical staff at the Ghent University Hospital for successfully completing this remarkable procedure. This is an incredible achievement, even more so given that the patient is already making a recovery that surpasses expectations, regaining the ability to speak only six days into recovery.”

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