At the age of 12, Tiffany Cullern began losing her sense of smell, a phenomenon that was attributed by doctors to allergies. As she was told, it was her pet bunny’s fur that was causing her loss of smell. Even after giving her pet away and being prescribed many antihistamines and nasal sprays, however, her sense of smell did not return.
It was only then, in 2013, that her doctors thought that maybe something else could be wrong. After having the young teen undergo a CT scan, the doctors were shocked to find a mass the size of a fist located between Tiffany’s eyes. Initially, the doctors believed that the mass was simply a cyst that could be drained, and it was only after a biopsy that they realized that the large mass growing on Tiffany’s brain was actually an extremely rare tumor that needed treatment quickly.
Only days after the surgery was completed, it became apparent that something was not quite right, as Tiffany was still unresponsive. She was subsequently rushed back into surgery where doctors found that her brain had become so swollen that it causing pressure on her skull. To remedy the situation and relieve the pressure, the doctors were forced to remove a large piece of her skull.
“My skull was still missing its original piece and I was told that this would have to be made by a 3D printer. This was meant to be a two week wait but there were various delays with the company making the piece. After the third week from my operation I asked if I could go home and wait for the skull piece there. The hospital agreed and I was discharged with strict instructions of what I could and could not do. Initially it was very, very scary and embarrassing walking around with half my head missing.”
When Tiffany’s doctors were sure that her brain would not swell up again, a 3D printed skull implant, which was modeled after CT and MRI scans of her head, was implanted into the now 20-year-old’s head. The 3D printed skull piece was made from titanium, plastic, and calcium.
Tess. “20-year-old Receives 3D Printed Skull Implant after Removal of Extremely Rare Tumor.” 3ders.org. N.p., 24 Apr. 2017. Web. 24 Apr. 2017.