By Caroline Song

Korea JoongAng Daily, a Korean English-language newspaper, recently published an article on the innovative efforts of Yonsei Medical School. “3-D Printing in the Operating Room” tells the story of Kim, a teenage high school student who was in a car accident three years ago that left him with serious skull injuries that required surgery. Doctors removed pieces of his cranium and attempted an artificial augmentation. However, his body ultimately rejected the augmentation, and his skull began to weaken, leaving one side of his head hollow.

To replace the collapsing bone cement, Professor Shim Kyu-won, a pediatric neurosurgeon at Yonsei Medical School, created a titanium skull implant using a 3-D printer. “If the damaged part of skull is too large, existing surgical methods of reconstructing bone cement implant may be difficult to execute,” the professor explained. “The metal skull implant printed out with a 3-D printer shortens the entire medical procedure and significantly reduces the risk of infection and complications.”


3-D printing is not new to medicine; it has already been used to create prosthetics and scaffolding for growing live cells. While the medical 3-D printing market has been experiencing significant growth, the use of such technologies are far from becoming commercialized for a number of reasons, including the expense and the highly individualized aspect of printing. Other barriers include bureaucratic hurdles; for example, Korean hospitals are often stymied in their efforts to utilize 3-D printing in many cases due to the need to obtain licensing for every medical procedure.

Read the full article here.