Published On: Sun, Feb 15th, 2015

Prosthetic Expert Recreates the Face of a Man With The Help Of Virtual Reality

Billy Crawford, a man from Texas, went to the hospital with an odd looking black dot on his face in 2010. The doctors identified his problem as an infection caused by a rare fungus called Mucormycosis. Problems in the immune system are a major cause of this fungal infection. Crawford was given anti-fungal medication. However, the fungus infection spread fast and in four hours the fungus had eaten most of the soft tissues of his face and one of the eyes.

His face was restored by the prosthetic expert from California, Suzanne Verma, by using an imaging technique and silicone mask. During the annual meeting of AAAS in San Jose, California she explained the procedure through which the restoration of the face was done.

Prosthetic Expert Recreates the Face of a Man With The Help Of Virtual Reality

To start with, the team of Verma collected the CT scans of Crawford before and after the fungal infection. The scan images were merged using software and a computer model of the face of the person was created. This helped the team to explore the areas that got damaged by the infection. They developed a custom surgery plan and designed the prosthetic.

The prosthetic was attached to the face of the person using a number of magnets that were implanted under the skin. Verma’s team ensured that the surgery would be successful and the mask fit snugly by using the computer model of the face as the guiding map.

The team used the light-emitting diodes fixed on his face as the markers and was able to track the position of the surgical instruments digitally in the physical world.

According to Verma and her colleagues, the surgical procedure was made efficient and accurate with the use of a method called navigational surgery. Crawford died in 2013 after living a contented life post the surgery.

Verma calls the system as the GPS of the operating room. She said that just as people use satellite to find the position of the moving car, they use the tracking devices and cameras in the operating room to find out the place while operating a patient using the anatomical map.

Pravin Patel, a reconstructive surgeon at the University of Illinois at Chicago said that Verma was fortunate enough to have the best tools and earlier the surgeons were unable to know exactly what they can expect while starting the operation. The earlier two-dimensional images given by CT scans were good enough to give the real life picture of the patient.

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