Local hospital uses 3D technology to change little girl's life

Local hospital uses 3D technology to change little girl's life

MT. PLEASANT, SC (WCSC) - A Lowcountry hospital is using the latest 3D technology to change one little girl's life.

Macie Dickey has a rare congenital condition called hemifacial hypertrophy and maxillary & mandibular hyperplasia.

It's a rare condition that baffled many physicians, according to dad Randy Dickey, and left the 12-year-old with several facial asymmetry.

"Immediately, when Macie was born, we could tell there was a little asymmetry on her face," Dickey said. "People would always ask her questions, 'What's wrong with your face?' 'Did you get bit by a dog?' Do you have Bell's Palsy?'"

Dr. Ram Kalus, an independent physician with Plastic Surgery of the Carolinas, has treated Macie since she was a toddler and characterized the condition as where one side of the face is more developed than the other.

Macie's ears and tonsils are also affected by the overgrowth.

"Basically, she has an overgrowth of tissue on the right side, but as she grows and develops it turns out the left side of her face has also not caught up," Dr. Kalus said.

Dr. Kalus said the pre-teen came to her parents earlier this year asking whether surgical adjustments were possible.

Due to innovative technology from manufacturer Stryker, the surgeon completed a special surgery at Roper St. Francis Mt. Pleasant Hospital Monday to reconstruct areas of Macie's jaw and cheekbones and give the teen a more even smile.

Dr. Kalus used Stryker's special implant technology in lieu of tissue implants, which can lead to increased scarring, according to the surgeon.

"What's nice is the deficiency is being made up by technology, and it's coming in a box," Dr. Kalus said.

An MRI scan captures a 3D image of Macie's skull in its current state; the images are then used to make a personalized model and prostheses.

"The computer is able to calculate what's missing, and then create a prosthesis that will make up for that deficiency," Dr. Kalus said.

During surgery, Dr. Kalus inserts the implants, made of a special porous polyethylene, or plastic, that will attach to the nerves and veins, allowing the implant to grow as Macie grows.

According to a representative for the manufacturer, approximately 400 surgeries will include the implant technology this year.

Dr. Kalus said Macie's case is especially unique given her age and rare condition.  The surgeon said when it comes to children in their formative years, such procedures can be life-changing.

"Most of the public talks about cosmetic surgery as it not being medically necessary, that it's frivolous," Dr. Kalus said. "We have children who are forming their personality and their identity. It's very important to develop a strong sense of self."

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