Germantown, OH--Patients suffering from severe facial burns often require transparent facial orthoses, or total contact burn masks, to treat hypertrophic scars. Unfortunately, the conventional method for creating these masks does not adequately record the patient's facial contours.
A patient must lie still for 45 minutes, breathing through straws in his/her nose, while petroleum jelly and an alginate material is applied to the face to create a negative mold for the mask.
Inability to develop a mask that fits precisely eliminates effectiveness of the mask treatment. A poor fit renders the treatment ineffective and can cause disfiguring and problems with facial function, eventually requiring additional surgery.
To improve the standard of care for burn patients, Total Contact Inc. is transferring technology long used in the military industry to the medical arena. Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (Dayton, OH) uses image science, which incorporates electronic-imaging technologies and image-processing software, to change the design and evaluate cranio-facial protective equipment, such as helmets and masks. This technology accurately records the facial contours to create a mask which fits.
To test this process, Bastech (Dayton, OH), a rapid prototyping service bureau, and Fidelity Orthopedic Inc. (Dayton, OH) created masks for three burn victims.
Medical experts use a color, 3D digitizing system from Cyberware Inc. (Monterey, CA) to painlessly obtain accurate contour data of the patient's head in 15 seconds.
Trigonometric calculations of 2D coordinates to 3D space are performed in Cyberware's digitizing software. Engineers then use INTEGRATE software from the Computerized Anthropometric Research and Design (CARD) Laboratory at Wright-Patterson on a Silicon Graphics workstation to visualize, analyze, and manipulate the 3D data to determine and improve the scan quality.
Bastech then slices the data into 0.005-inch layers and creates "build" files on Maestro software that are transferred to an SLA-500/40 machine from 3D Systems (Valencia, CA). Once at the machine, a mold is built and then transferred to Fidelity Orthopedics, where a mask is vacuum-formed over the SLA mold in 10 minutes.
"This new process is not only replacing a conventional method, but also giving some burn centers the ability to make masks after they had given up," says Whitestone.