Maxillofacial ballistic injuries

27 February 2011

Mr Sat Parmar

Mr Parmar provided a fascinating insight into the developments underway with maxillofacial surgery to improve the effectiveness of reconstruction after traumatic injuries.

A key element in Mr Parmar’s research is the involvement of patients with a range of different conditions but similar reconstructive needs. This means he is able to look at a deeper cross-section of the patient population, including those whose facial defects are caused by congenital deformities, cancer and trauma.

The work on reconstructing facial defects is being driven increasingly by the development of new techniques and technology in the field of prosthetics.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham has one of the world’s leading prosthetic laboratories, able to create highly accurate three-dimensoinal resin models of a patient’s defect.

A 3D CT scan of the patient is carried out, and the data is then used by a three-dimensional printer to build the resin model exactly to scale.

Surgeons can use this model to plan treatment in great detail as they can see structures deep within the skull. It also means bone graft sites can be identified measured precisely before surgery.

Where bone and other structures have been removed or damaged, prosthetics such as metal plates and wires are often needed, technicians can use the models to ensure an exact fit before surgery is even carried out.

One of the most exciting aspects of this research is the work with prosthetics which can be absorbed by the body and encourage bone to grow and replace them. These resorbable plates could reduce the risks of infection, improve long-term functionality and even make follow-up scans easier to carry out as they do not block X-rays.