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The Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh, Scotland, has turned to 3D printing to make a new ear for nine-year-old Anya Storie. The girl was born with the congenital condition microtia, causing her to have an underdeveloped right ear which affects her hearing.
Plastic surgeon Ken Stewart will use hospital’s 3D scanning and printing capabilities to create a replica of the girl’s other ear. This replica will be mde with cartilage from her ribcage.
With a handheld Artec 3D scanner, the ear was captured into a 3D model which was then mirrored to match the other side of the head. This model was then 3D printed in plastic and sterilized to be used as a guide in carving the ear from Anya’s rib cartilage.
The whole procedure will need three operations, the first will fit the structure of the new ear underneath the skin, once the skin conforms, a second surgery will fix the new ear into the desired position and the last procedure will open the ear canal that is currently closed.
3D Printed ears
Dr Stewart thinks the new technique could be taken much further, “We’re also doing some work with the Centre for Regenerative Medicine at Edinburgh University. Ultimately we want to 3D print the ear that we want as a matrix and combine that with a mixture of stem cells and cartilage cells to grow an ear in a lab and implant that”, he told to BBC.