Pune Team Creates ‘Ears’ For Aussie Without Meeting Him

A duo from Pune, managed to create a set of artificial ears for a patient in Sydney. The prosthesis were fabricated in Pune and were shipped to a man in Sydney without even meeting him.This is the first of its kind procedure that took place in India. The team used a combination of specialized software, a 3D printer and a thorough knowledge of Human anatomy to complete this task.

The lockdown and traveling restrictions made it difficult to connect with a patient who was thousands of kilometers away. But these difficulties did not stop this doctor from Pune from attempting this task which seemed next to impossible.

All traditional facial prosthesis have always been made by a lot of manual dexterity that necessitates the patient to be present on the site. Another drawback being the lack of trained professionals to perform such tasks.

It was a difficult task to breathe life into the prosthesis because the only references they had were the videos and photos of the patient. Matching the skin tone and recreating other anatomical features without seeing the patient in person was a challenge in itself.

“Who would’ve thought that sitting in Pune, under a lockdown, we would be able to help a person in Sydney,” said maxillofacial prosthodontist B Srinivasan. It took him and product design consultant Prakash Khanzode about a week to create the ears – from scratch. They were assisted by engineer Hrushikesh Wadekar.

“Technology has now made the location of the patient irrelevant. The Pune model promises to change the way patients who need prosthetics are treated in the future,” Srinivasan said.

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About their patient, Srinivasan said the individual was born without ears. “He had a hearing problem that was treated by doctors there. But the lack of ears impacted self-esteem.”

“It was a particularly difficult project because the patient had problems in both ears. There wasn’t a normal ear to use for reconstruction,” she said.

Prosthetist Sophie Fleming, who supervised the fit the first time – with Srinivasan on a video call – said, “The Pune team’s path-breaking protocol with earlier cases prompted us to reach out to them.”

Srinivasan and team were funded by the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a not-for-profit public sector enterprise set up by the Department of Biotechnology (DBT). They were then assisted by Pune-based technology incubator, Venture Center.

“That we did this in a year when Covid-19 has minimized access to care, both in Australia and India, speaks volumes about this technology. We aim to increase our work in digital planning and telehealth to boost access for patients worldwide,” Srinivasan said.

Dr.B.Srinivasan is a consultant Maxillofacial Prosthodontist and Chief Executive of Enhance Head Neck Rehabilitation,Pune.He can be reached on srinivasan@ehnr.org


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