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IIT Madras Develops 3D-Printed Face Implants for Black Fungus Patients

Written by : Jayati Dubey

December 27, 2023

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Under the #Right2Face campaign, IIT Madras researchers are identifying patients who cannot afford costly imported implants and providing them with these implants free of charge.

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) have pioneered the development of 3D-printed face implants to aid patients grappling with Black Fungus. It is a severe condition reported in COVID-19 patients and individuals with uncontrolled diabetes, HIV/AIDS, and other medical conditions.

The initiative, known as #Right2Face, aims to provide patient-specific custom maxillofacial implants to economically weaker sections, with approximately 50 implants already administered.

Black Fungus, scientifically termed 'Mucormycosis,' has emerged as a grave concern in India, causing not only health issues but also resulting in the loss of facial features for affected individuals.

The repercussions of this disease can have profound effects on the mental and emotional well-being of patients. Post-COVID, an alarming number of approximately 60,000 mucormycosis cases have been recorded in India.

The fungus responsible for mucormycosis can invade facial tissues, leading to necrosis and disfigurement. In severe cases, patients may lose vital facial organs, including the nose and eyes, impacting basic functions such as breathing, eating, and communication.

Reconstructive surgery has become a crucial solution for those who have lost facial features due to Black Fungus, aiming to restore both appearance and function.

Traditional reconstructive surgery methods involve techniques like skin grafts, tissue expansion, and microvascular surgery. While effective, these patient-specific procedures are often expensive, making them inaccessible for individuals from economically weaker sections.

In collaboration with ZorioX Innovation Labs, a startup founded by dental surgeons in Chennai, IIT Madras has leveraged metal 3D printing or additive manufacturing to develop these face implants. The partnership seeks to implement this initiative and address the pressing need for facial reconstruction in Black Fungus patients.

Dr Murugaiyan Amirthalingam, associate professor in the Department of Metallurgical and Materials Engineering at IIT Madras, explained the significance of additive manufacturing, stating, "Additive manufacturing (3D printing) has already emerged as a viable and cost-effective, net shape manufacturing process for low volume production of complex body implants with specific custom-made designs."

He further highlighted ongoing research activities at IIT Madras to commercialise this technology for printing patient-specific implants in various alloys.

The innovative approach involves utilising in-house algorithms to convert a patient's MRI/CT data into a printable CAD format. Custom implants are then 3D printed from medical-grade titanium using an indigenously built laser powder bed facility at IIT Madras.

Speaking about this initiative, Dr Karthik Balaji, CEO, ZorioX Innovation labs, said, "Post-COVID there has been an increase in number of black fungus cases. To save the lives of the patient, a lot of facial bones had to be removed. These patients are mostly breadwinners of the family and are now confined within four walls because of their facial deformity. #Right2face movement is aimed to help these needy patients in association with the oral and maxillofacial surgeons to restore the faces and give them back their smile."

What sets the IIT Madras initiative apart is its ability to match the 3D-printed implants precisely to the unique features of each patient's face. The researchers use CT data to design implants tailored to each patient's needs.

Under the #Right2Face campaign, IIT Madras researchers are identifying patients who cannot afford costly imported implants and providing them with these implants free of charge.

In another development in August this year, researchers from IIT Madras created a Machine Learning-driven computational tool designed to enhance the identification of cancerous brain and spinal cord tumours. Termed 'GBMDriver' (short for GlioBlastoma Multiforme Drivers), this innovative tool is now accessible to the public online.

About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit


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