Six months after 3D printing helped surgeons reshape her face, a 2-year-old girl is reportedly “smiling and laughing” again as she gambols along the road to recovery.
Violet Pietrok’s family told ABC News that she is doing “fantastic” post-surgery.
"She’s taking it all in stride,” mom Alicia Taylor said.
Violet was born with a rare deformity called a Tessier facial cleft. Her eyes were set very far apart on her face, she had no cartilage in her nose and a large growth over her left eye. As The New York Times explained in a January report, the bones that typically bond to form the fetal face did not join together properly in Violet’s case.
In October, Violet, whose family lives in Oregon, underwent a major surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital to reshape her face. The procedure was a dangerous one as it involved making cuts through the skull very near the optic nerve.
Fortunately, surgeons had the benefit of using 3D printing technology to help them.
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As CBC News explains, Boston Children’s Hospital used 3D printing to help make a perfect replica of Violet’s skull. Surgeons were then able to practice on the model before the surgery itself.
"We were actually able to do the procedure before going into the operating room," said Dr. John Meara, a reconstructive surgeon who operated on Violet, per CBC. "So we made the cuts in the model, made the bony movements that we would be making in Violet's case and we identified some issues that we modified prior to going into the operating room, which saves time and means that you're not making some of these critical decisions in the operating room."
The surgery took several hours but was ultimately a success. According to ABC News, Violet will likely undergo more procedures in the future, but she is doing very well after her operation.
“She’s so happy ... all the time," Violet's mom told the news outlet.
Doctors say that 3D printing is a "game-changer" for surgeries like Violet's.
"The value of a model like this is huge," Meara said in a four-part YouTube video series produced by Boston Children's Hospital. (Watch the whole series in the videos above.)