Patient-Specific PEEK Implants (PSI) are comparable to cortical bone and designed from patient scan data to create a customized, patient-specific solution. Synthetic cranioplasties are commonly used as an alternative to bone flaps to fill a defect or void in the cranial skeleton. Neurosurgeons have a wide selection of cranioplasty products to choose from, including PEEK polymer, PMMA, and titanium mesh. New products are gradually coming to market, but few boast the clinical specifications of customized PEEK materials. Many doctors prefer PEEK because of the material durability and the ease of use in the OR. For a patient-matched cranioplasty, the customizable nature of PEEK lends itself to manufacture, ship, and autoclave at a competitive price point. Patient-matched implants benefit from many of the same advantages as Digital Surgery Planning (for example, CMF reconstruction or trauma) in that the advanced preparation can reduce operating room time, reduce risk, and help improve surgical outcomes.
The case shown above highlights a titanium mesh explant followed by the placement of a patient-specific PEEK implant (PSI). Aesthetically the titanium mesh needs to be hand-bent to best fit the patient, but continual bending of titanium can contribute to micro-fractures that may compromise material strength. Work-hardening of titanium can lead to implant failure, but in this case the surgeon could avoid the risk of work-hardening by selecting a PEEK implant. Customized cranial implants save time in the OR by avoiding the titanium bending process which can result in sharp edges and poor mesh fit. Out of the box, a patient-specific PEEK implant fits the defect perimeter more naturally compared to generic cranioplasty alternatives.
Continuing the case – the PEEK implant will likely then be fixated with commercially available titanium plating. Stereolithic 3D models of the skull and defect are also available through the MedCAD patient-specific workflow. Starting with patient radiological data, MedCAD biomedical engineers convert 2D scan slices into a virtual 3D model. From there the PSI is digitally designed to organically match the contour of patient anatomy according to surgeon prescription. Simultaneously, the full skull model is exported and 3d printed. The products are shipped overnight once the Cranial Implant Kit is complete with a priority on fast turnaround.