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Sven Maricic a pioneer of 3D printing technology in Croatia
Sven Maričić with Darija Vareško and Ivana Vrdoljak, participants of the Branding Croatia 2 meeting in Zagreb 2016. Photo by Tina Kahrić.
Sven Maričić with his young friends in the City Library in Rijeka
3D printed ear successfully attached to elderly man thanks to team of Croatian doctors
Feb 18, 2016 | By Tess
A team of doctors at the Clinical Hospital in the city of Rijeka, Croatia, have recently and successfully attached a 3D printed ear to an elderly patient whose biological ear had to be removed because of skin cancer. The operation was executed as a joint effort between the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Rijeka and the Otorhinolaryngology Clinic at the local hospital and marks yet another successful implantation of a 3D printed prosthetic.
The patient in question, an elderly man, was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer, which was growing in his right ear. To properly remove the cancerous tumours, part of the patient’s ear had to be surgically removed while he was under local anesthesia.
Once the initial surgery had healed, the doctors got to work creating a 3D printed ear which could be attached to the patient’s right side. As Dr. Dubravko Manestar, who led the operation explains, “After approximately one month when the cut grew over, we opted for this type of operation, which was carried out in a team with Dr. Komljenović. Under local anesthesia we installed the 3D printed part to the missing area of the right ear. The mold was made with accurate measurements and then a number of models were printed so the most similar to the existing part of the ear could be used.”
An ear of an elderly man now (on the left) and before (on the right). Photo by KBC (Clinical Hospital) Rijeka, Croatia.
The 3D printed ear parts were quite easily attached to the patient’s remaining ear using an adhesive, and were 3D printed from a biocompatible silicone material, resembling a real ear. The 3D printed ear model was designed by Dr. Sven Maričić and his associates Sanjin Fućak, and Duje Kalajžić and was based off of measurements made of the patient’s original ear. Four versions of the ear model were additively manufactured in varying colour tones to find the perfect match. The coloring for the ear was done by Marijan Požar.
Dr. Manestar explains that the surgical attachment of the 3D printed ear, which only required local anesthesia, marks an important type of surgery especially for elderly patients who are not always able to undergo long surgeries under full sedation. While the ear itself is not made from an organic material, it at least offers an aesthetic solution to the patient, which as Dr. Manestar says, “is also important for the socialization of patients.”
The 3D printer used in creating the implanted ear was purchased by the University of Rijeka as part of an effort to develop research infrastructure at the school. Both the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) which invests in innovative projects across Europe, and Croatia’s Ministry of Science, Education and Sport funded the purchase of the 3D printer at the University of Rijeka’s Faculty of Medicine.
I was born in Rijeka. After completing a Master's degree in the area of production engineering at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Rijeka, I continued with my scientific research at the same faculty and was awarded a Ph.D. in 2011 on the topic of the development biocompatible parts in biotechnology.
Since 2011, I have been working as a senior assistant at the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Rijeka, where I focus on areas such as production engineering, biotechnology, reconstruction of the maxillofacial region, CAD/CAM etc. As of 2012, I have also been employed as a professional associate at the Faculty of Medicine of the same university, where I hold lectures on the application of new technology in dental medicine. In addition, I serve as the head of the Laboratory for Plastic Deformation and Manufacturing Machines. 2013, I have fulfilled all the conditions for full professorship already at the age of 34 (among the youngest 10% of scientific advisors in the Republic of Croatia).
My current professional work is focused on CAD/CAM 3D modelling and the development of endoscopic surgical instruments, while I regularly participate in seminars devoted to my areas of interest and hold lectures on biotechnology for both professional circles and the general public. Alongside my scientific pursuits, I also enjoy developing my artistic skills by playing several instruments and writing children's books.
Professional associate at the Faculty of Medicine University of Rijeka
Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Engineering University of Rijeka
Head of the Laboratory for Plastic Deformation and Manufacturing Machines
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