ANCHOR LEAD: REBUILDING AN IRAQ WAR VETERAN’S FACE TEACHES VALUABLE LESSONS, ELIZABETH TRACEY REPORTS
Senior airman Michael Fletcher lost a big chunk out of the middle of his face while serving in Iraq. Patrick Byrne, a reconstructive surgeon at Johns Hopkins, describes its replacement.
BYRNE: The biggest operation for him was rebuilding the entirety of the nose out of rib and ear cartilage, with skin from his forehead transferred on top. There were three major operations and three minors. The major operations took about eight to ten hours each, the smaller operations took just an hour or so. :16
Byrne says computer modeling and development of molds were invaluable.
BYRNE: The value we found with these molds that we were able to make and the three dimensional preoperative virtual surgery essentially was just enormous, so I think that’s the biggest lesson that we learn over and over in the last several years. :13
Byrne says such techniques are already being used in others who need major reconstruction, and will probably be used in cosmetic surgery shortly. I’m Elizabeth Tracey reporting.