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Operating In 3-D

CHICAGO, Ill. (Ivanhoe Newswire) -- They struggle to eat, speak and sleep. The more than 10 million people with jaw alignment problems are reminded of their pain with every bite. Braces and retainers help, but for serious cases, surgery is the best option.

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It's a tricky procedure in which just a millimeter mistake changes how the teeth line up. Surgeons are improving accuracy, and putting patients at ease by doing the surgery in a virtual world.

The Korean martial art of hopkido gives Roberto Colin an outlet to release his frustration.

"I try to think of all the bad things that go on throughout the week," Colin told Ivanhoe.

For more than a decade, those "bad things" centered on a painful jaw problem. His teeth didn't line up and it hurt to eat.

"Eating a potato chip felt like I was eating a brick," Colin recalled.

It also slurred his speech.

"Couldn't chew, couldn't bite," Colin described.

And it knocked down his self esteem…

"They tend to have kind of a bulldog appearance," Peter Kim, MD, Chief Resident Plastic Surgery, at Shriner's Hospital, in Chicago, IL, said.

Colin needed surgery, but before he stepped inside an OR, his plastic surgeon had already done the operation … virtually!

"It allows us to be a little more precise, have more predictable outcomes, rather than going in there Willy Nilly trying to put these two pieces of the puzzle together," Dr. Kim explained.

The software uses the patient's CT scans to create a 3-D image of his face and skull. Surgeons practice and pinpoint every complex measurement and every precise cut before they pick up a scalpel.

"These have been calculated to the millimeter exactly how far forward this upper jaw needs to come and also how far down," Dr. Kim said.

This is a big advance from the traditional technique

"One side needs to come down lower than the other side and that is something that wouldn't have been able to be accounted for using the traditional 2-D methods," Dr. Kim explained.

"I was blown away that they could do that even before going in," Colin said. "It made me feel more secure with what I was getting into."

Six months later, Colin's savoring every moment: no more pain no matter what he eats.

"It's amazing … kind of like when you try a different food for the first time," Colin described. "It's exactly how it feels with everything."

Now he just needs to work on mastering the art of knowing when to say when.

Dr. Kim says the software allows them to do the surgery faster and more efficiently. Studies show patients who spend less time on the table have a lower risk of developing infections, less blood loss and quicker recoveries.

The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.-USA, contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.

Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:

Cathleen Himes
Public Relations Specialist
Shriners Hospitals for Children®- Chicago
(773) 385-5420

Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.
Pender McCarter


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