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A Peek Into How 3D Technology Has Changed Surgery In Africa

3D printing is one of the innovative technologies that has benefited the health sector worldwide. As a continent, Africa has also enjoyed the wonders of this tech especially when it comes to surgery.

Below are some cases where surgery has been successful largely or partly because of 3D printing.

Akikere Bassey [Photo: IOL]

Easing a little girl’s breathing problems

In 2015, the surgeons at the Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town used 3D technology to print models of the skull and face of Akikere Bassey.

The Nigerian girl has a genetic condition called Crouzon Syndrome, characterised by the premature fusion of skull bones and the cranial base. The condition also comes with developmental and heart problems, breathing issues and hypertension.

Leading plastic surgeon Professor Frank Graewe led the team of doctors conducting the operation that eased the heart and breathing problems Akikere experienced.

Grace Kabalenga with her parents [Picture: Barcroft India]

Giving a girl a forehead

Grace Kabalenga had her skull removed in 2012 to prevent an infection from a surgery that tried to control her cranial deformity. In 2015, thanks to 3D technology, she underwent an operation to have a forehead implanted into her skull for the bone marrow to grow.

The operation also happened at the Tygerberg Academic Hospital.


Jesse Ayebazibwe [Photo: New Vision]

Giving amputees the chance to walk again

Jesse Ayebazibwe is one of the boys who has benefitted from 3D technology.

In 2012, doctors amputated his leg after a truck hit him on his way home. His life changed as he was unable to play with other children and his grandmother was forced to carry him to school.

In 2015, he received a prosthetic leg at the Comprehensive Rehabilitation Services (CoRSU), which in partnership with Canada’s University of Toronto and the charity Christian Blind Mission, print them using 3D technology.

3D technology has also been used for landmine survivors from South Sudan as well.

Kenyatta National Hospital surgeons [Picture: KNH]

Separating conjoined Twins in Kenya

Doctors at Kenyatta National Hospital in Kenya successfully separated conjoined twins with the use of 3D tech.  The lead surgeon Dr Fred Kambuni said they used 3D printed model created from the patients’ CT scans.

The twins were born sharing various organs including the spinal cord, the rectum, anus, muscles and skin.  Not only was the surgery successful but also the children were discharged from the hospital.

Jaw implant vs patient’s jaw [Photo: Dieburger]

Jawbone implant in South Africa

South Africa’s Kimberly Hospital Complex performed the country’s first 3D-printed jaw bone implantation.

Doctors, led by Dr. Cules van den Heever, operated on two patients: one who suffered facial disfiguration resulting from cancer and another who had broken his first steel implant.


Written by How Africa

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