On the Job: Technology Makes More Time for the Human Touch

15 Nov, 2004 By: Cadalyst Staff Cadalyst

Roland DGA 3D technology has dramatically improved the process for making medical prostheses. Rather than spending tedious hours hand sculpting, anaplastologists are now using the Roland MDX-650 milling device and a PIX-30 3D scanner to quickly produce prosthetic parts with improved accuracy and realism.

The Roland MDX-650 benchtop SRP (subtractive rapid prototyping) device turns CAD files into medical prosthetics, functional prototypes, and short-run molds. The unit mills polyurethane, ABS, modeling wax, and aluminum as fast as 200-inches per minute. The PIX-30 3D Scanner uses the company's Active Piezo Sensor technology to perform extremely high-precision scanning. It creates wire-frame models used for 3D prosthetics, prototyping, computer graphics and animation, and product development.

COMPRU -- the head and neck reconstruction unit from the Caritas Health Group at Misericordia Community Hospital in Edmonton, Alberta -- is among the first to take advantage of this technology -- a new trend in facial reconstruction.

"Roland 3D technology has tremendous potential to impact the facial prosthetic field," said Rosemary Seelaus, COMPRU anaplastologist. "It saves a significant amount of time hand sculpting so that I can quickly establish form and position. I can focus on the final details that make the prosthesis realistic. The technology preserves my clinical energy for the patient."

The COMPRU team includes specialists in jaw and facial prosthetics, surgery, hearing, speech, dermatology, pathology, hyperbaric medicine, psychology, biomechanical engineering, and radiology. Its members are leading medical care providers, researchers, and teachers. Seelaus is specially trained to make prostheses for the face with great realism and likeness to the natural anatomy. Seelaus recently made a prosthesis for a man who lost his left ear. Before using Roland 3D technology, she would have created a plaster cast from an impression taken of the patient's existing ear and used its mirror image as a guide for hand sculpting the ear from modeling wax. This process was long and tedious.

Today, she scans the plaster cast of the patient's good ear using the Roland PIX-30, digitally mirrors the scanned file, and mills it with a Roland MDX-650 (figure 1).

Figure 1. Detail of the surface texture of the milled ear form (left); milled mirror-image ear (center); and milled ear form reproduced in clinical sculpting wax (right).

This gives her more time with the patient to assess the ear model for accuracy, form, and position. She duplicates the model by hand in a softer, flesh-tone wax to finalize form and fit on the patient. The prosthetic ear is then ready to wear (figure 2), showing every wrinkle and pore in the skin.

Figure 2. The patient and his unaffected ear (left), and wearing the prosthetic ear developed using Roland 3D scanning and milling technology (right).

Roland DGA

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