WHAT IS ANAPLASTOLOGY?
Anaplastology is a specialized healthcare field focused on providing custom (patient-specific), restorative prostheses for patients impacted by disfigured or malformed anatomy of the face or body, resulting from cancer, trauma, or congenital origin.
Images courtesy of Prosthetics at Graphica Medica, Minnesota, USA
Customized prosthetic rehabilitation serves as an alternative treatment option when surgical reconstruction is unachievable or undesired by the patient. Anaplastology services typically include custom facial, breast, and partial hand and foot prostheses. Practicing clinical anaplastologists may sometimes specialize in creating prostheses for a specific region of the body, such as craniofacial.
The practice of anaplastology draws on advanced scientific data derived from research and best practices in biomedical sciences, dentistry, oncology, reconstructive surgery, materials science and engineering, applications of 3D modeling and prototype manufacturing, as well as artistic application of color theory, painting, sculpting, mold fabrication.
How is a prosthesis made?
In general, facial and somatic (body) prostheses are created by reproducing a three-dimensional model of the absent anatomy by one or a combination of methods, such as traditional sculpting, virtual sculpting, computer-aided design, and generating a 3D-printed prototype. Careful observation is used to reproduce accurate anatomical form and surface textures. The anaplastologist also employs color matching techniques to mimic those found in the patient's skin. A mold is created based on the prosthesis sculpture, and pigmented silicone is carefully applied to the mold according to a customized color pattern that will yield a highly realistic similarity to that of the patient's skin coloration. The resulting silicone prosthesis should appear to blend with the patient's tissue surface and restore the absent or disfigured anatomy.
How is a prosthesis "held on"?
Prostheses are not permanently attached to the patient. Prostheses may be retained using medical-grade adhesives (glues), or by attaching to "bone-anchored"(osseointegrated) implants. (Bone-anchored implants are small titanium screws fixed within bone.) Implant-retained prostheses use clips or magnets disguised within the prosthesis to provide reliable placement and retention.
In most particle hand/foot cases, and some facial cases, the remaining contours of the patients tissue surface will allow for anatomical retention of a prosthesis, and the prosthesis is designed so that it can be held in place by mechanically engaging with the remaining anatomy, requiring no additional adhesive or implants.
The ideal retention method is dependent on each patient's specific circumstance and needs.
The Art & Science of Anaplastology
The practice of anaplastology draws on advanced scientific data derived from research and best practices in biomedical sciences, dentistry, oncology, reconstructive surgery, materials science and engineering, applications of 3D modeling and prototype manufacturing, as well as artistic application of color theory, painting, sculpting, and mold fabrication.
Awareness & Funding Challenges
The number of trained, practicing anaplastologists around the world is extremely small, in part because of the unique skills required of the anaplastologist, and also due to a general lack of awareness of the field.
A lack of knowledge and understanding about custom prosthetic services available to potential patients can create barriers that prevent patients from obtaining treatment. This lack of awareness also creates challenges for clinicians and researchers to acquire funding for research and education necessary to advance the field and bring about better patient outcomes.
The WST aims to improve overall awareness about this important profession and its services through a commitment to education and research in the field of anaplastology.
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