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Reconstructed skull, repaired by titanium cranioplasty, England, 1980

Cranioplasty is a surgical technique to repair damage to the skull caused by birth defect, illness or injury. Developed in the 1970s by George Blair, a dental surgeon, and Derek Gordon, a neurosurgeon, this method meant that repairs could be made which easily imitated the curves and shape of the skull, unlike previous methods which involved wiring and stitching. Moulds would be taken of the piece of skull to be repaired, from which a titanium plate is made. Titanium is a good material to use in this sort of surgery as it is extremely strong and durable, but also inert – so will not react with tissues and provoke an immune response. The bone plates and screws are also used to stabilise the skull.

Object number:

1981-1843

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Glossary:

Glossary: skull

The skeleton of the head of a vertebrate animal, including the brain case, or cranium, and the bones and cartilages of the face and mouth. The skull can be subdivided into two parts: the cranium and the mandible. The human skull is made up from 22 bones.

Glossary: bone plate

plates used to bridge fracture sites

Glossary: anatomy

A branch of medical science concerned with the structure of living organisms.

Glossary: cranioplasty

Surgical repair of the skull, usually by covering the affected area with metal.