A research team from National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) and NCKU Hospital has developed new navigation systems for orthognathic surgery and lumbar punctures, not only significantly cutting surgery time in half, but also increasing surgical precision — a landmark in local medicine.
When Fang Ching-ching, a professor in NCKU’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, was playing ball with a friend 16 years ago, they started chatting about oral and maxillofacial surgeries and discovered that when you cut open a plaster dental model and use traditional two-dimensional cephalometric analysis, you can only see cavities and not the actual position of the bone. The slightest movement during surgery could cause malocclusion and decrease surgical precision. Fang says this is why she started devoting her time to developing computer-assisted navigation systems for orthognathic and lumbar puncture surgeries.
Fang says that overall symmetry, normal occlusion of teeth, as well as trying to obtain as much facial symmetry as possible, are the most important reasons for having reconstructive orthognathic surgery. The Virtual Reality and Multimedia Lab she runs uses optics to guide plaster dental models on top of dental occludators, and then create 3D models using computerized medical imaging. By using data from their evaluations of facial symmetry and cranial analyses, the relationship between occlusion and the 3D images of facial features is obtained, which can guide surgeons during surgery and also provide information for post-surgery analyses.
Fang says the two 3D surgical navigation systems can be used in cases of microtia, cosmetic reconstructive surgery for facial bones as well as scoliosis. In working with NCKU Hospital, she has used the systems in clinical studies and 30 patients have now successfully used the new method during surgery. This newly developed technology makes reconstructive surgery more efficient and precise, and whether it be applied in designing assistive technology or 3D puncture surgery, it will help improve future software and technology in local medicine.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)