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Materialise plays crucial role in world's first-ever eye transplant

13 November 2023

Materialise's 3D technologies played a key role in the first-ever full eye transplant at New York's NYU Langone Health hospital. A partial face transplant was also performed at the same time.

The patient is a 46-year-old U.S. ex-military man who received a 7,200-volt electric shock while working on a high-voltage power line, suffering severe facial burns and losing his left eye. Clinical engineers from Materialise worked closely for months with the surgical team at NYU Langone Health to create a pre-operative plan and a virtual 3-D model based on CT scans. These enable surgeons to virtually prepare for surgery and visualize different scenarios.

Materialise provided the virtual 3D planning of the surgery and 3D printed various medical devices tailored to the donor and patient, which ensured that the surgery could be performed faster and more accurately. This is the first time ever that an entire eye has been successfully transplanted and also the first time it has been done in conjunction with a partial face transplant. The operation took 21 hours.

"Surgeons could thus prepare the operation virtually and visualize different scenarios," said spokesman Kristof Sehmke.

Multiple cutting instruments were also used during the operation, which were printed entirely to the size of the donor and patient. "Those cutting instruments ensure that the bone fragments could be cut out faster and extremely precisely, like a puzzle piece," Shemke said. "During the eye transplant, part of the eye socket was also transplanted."

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