Friday, July 9, 2010

Week 4 - Carissa

This week I was back in the operating room again. Tuesday there was a young patient who had a benign tumor in the back part of her jaw. Dr. Kutler, oral surgeons (I didn't catch their names), and Dr. Spector along with their respective teams cut out the tumor along with the piece of jaw bone surrounding it, and used one of her fibulas (one of 2 bones in the shin) to replace the resected portion of her jaw. They also took skin from her leg and placed it over the new bone to help the wound heal properly.

It was amazing to see such a large team of surgeons working simultaneously. Oral and orthopedic surgeons were cutting out the tumor and aligning her jaw while plastic surgeons extracted her fibula and cut it to size using a 3D sizer. They had plastic models of her jaw and the portion of the fibula to be used in the jaw, and everything was cut exactly to size to keep her jaw lined up. They also connected the blood supply from the patient's jaw to the blood vessels inside the fibula section and skin flap to keep the tissue alive and healthy. Hopefully the patient will recover well and the new blood vessel connections will keep the bone healthy and strong for years to come. Eventually the patient will get teeth implants on the new part of her jaw to exert stress on the bone to keep it from wasting away.

This is just one of many examples I have seen at the hospital where doctors are using technology developed by engineers (CT scans, 3D modeling systems, specialized solid works programs, 3D printing, etc) as a necessary tools for a successful surgery.

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