TOPIC: VIRTUALLY REBUILDING FACES
REPORT: MB #3127
Some people are born with skeletal or dental irregularities that can cause problems chewing, speaking and even breathing. Surgery to correct the problem is recommended for patients who have misaligned teeth and/or jaws, or patients whose upper and lower jaws grow at different rates. Symptoms that may require corrective surgery include difficulty chewing, excessive wear on the teeth, an open bite, a receding chin or a protruding jaw.
Corrective jaw surgery is a major surgery that involves both surgery and orthodontics. The first step is often wearing braces to move teeth into a new position. The actual surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes from one to several hours. During the procedure, surgical plates, screws, wires and rubber bands may be put in place to hold the jaws in their new position. Bone is sometimes added, removed or reshaped. Patients generally return to work no less than one week after surgery, and the entire healing process takes between nine and 12 months. Planning for such procedures requires hours of work -- up to 75 percent of the entire surgery process.
PLANNING SURGERY, IMPROVING OUTCOMES:A virtual program is now available that helps surgeons plan complex facial surgeries. Surgeons at Emory University are using a type of software that takes data from a patient's CT scan and allows them to virtually operate on the affected area. Surgeons can virtually look at the outcome of surgery "and then measure the accuracy, go back and make changes, and bring us to a level of preoperative planning that we had not been able to achieve before," Steven Roser, D.M.D., M.D., of the division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, Ga., told Ivanhoe. Surgeons can also use a computer to help create acrylic surgical tools that improve the accuracy of surgery.
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