Russian and British scientists develop new facial implant for children

New individual polymer implants make even slightest facial deformities disappear

Russian and British scientists managed to make a step forward in the field of plastic surgery, which develops new methods of reconstructing organs and body parts with partially defective functions, shapes or deformed surfaces. Russian and British specialists joined their forces to develop new implants for correction of facial and skull bones for those children who were injured or born with defects.

Implants are light and solid. Their production is cheap; they do not have any drawbacks that may result in side effects. Inventors are certain that the new development will replace titanium implants, which are widely used in medicine nowadays.

Dr. Vladimir Popov from the Russian Institute of Laser and Information Technologies and Professor Steve Howdle of Nottingham University presented the results of their work to the British charity Welcome Fund. It is one of the leading charity funds in Great Britain, which collects money for scientific research.

Russian specialists, the fund said, learned to create three-dimensional copies of an injured or deformed part of a skull or a face. The process, which involves X-rays and tomography, was called laser stereolithography. The technique gives surgeons a possibility to develop a precise plan of an operation in advance, without using a scalpel. A specialist will have to spend mere hours to create an individual polymer implant, which will make even slightest facial deformities disappear.

New implants are called PolyHap. Implants are filled with mineral-like substance called hydroxyapatite, which toughens the polymer and improves its bone-friendly qualities. In addition, scientists learned to increase PolyHap's porosity and remove toxic substances from it not to allow unwanted reactions to occur.

”I am certain that polymers will substitute titanium in surgery. We have found a way to make them stronger. They are perfect for implantation operations. Our technique allows to perform faster operations that save time and money for patients and hospitals,” Dr. Popov said.

The new invention is being currently tested in Moscow. The method has already been successfully used with 50 patients between 1.5 and 18 years of age. Russian and British scientists are currently working on a special flexible version of the implant, which would be possible to modify as a damaged bone grows.

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Author`s name Olga Savka