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South African scientists invent bone reconstruction device

CAPE TOWN, Jan. 29 — Researchers at the University of Cape Town (UCT) have developed a new device to bring back the smiles to people with upper jaw abnormalities, a news report said on Saturday.

The device, invented by Maxillo-facial surgeon Rushdi Hendricks with two mechanical engineers, is a plate-guided distractor which can help grow new bone in the upper jaw, according to the South African Press Association.

Hndricks described the device as superior in treating jaw problems. "I am growing bone as well as bone lining. Not only that; I'm also concentrating on your smile; on the aesthetics; the way the teeth are going to sit in your mouth," he said.

The device works like a hose clamp made to work as a crawler on a track. As the bone grows, the hose clamp is moved to allow the bone to extend.

The principle behind the invention was that new bone and tissue developed to fill the gap when a carefully severed bone was pulled apart, said the report.

A similar method for regrowing the lower jaw — distraction osteogenesis — was already in use.

However, it was believed that Hendricks and his team were the first to use it on the more complex upper jaw, the report said.

Last year, the procedure was successfully performed on two people, according to the report.

"The value of this surgery lies in more than just the clever mechanics and the first-of-a-kind surgery," Hendricks said.

"It also has the potential to change the entire maxillo-facial surgery world, and the lives of untold patients." (PNA/Xinhua)

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