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Surgical Breakthrough Has Bright Export Potential

Mike Neville of Enztech NZ Ltd with a biomodel of a hemi pelvis. A 3D version of the model is on the computer screen

Christchurch company Enztech NZ Ltd has developed a state-of-the-art biomodel device that has excited New Zealand plastic surgeons and offers strong export potential to Australia.

The device was developed as a result of merging rapid prototyping technology and CT (computerised tomography) scan technology. Enztech managing director Paul Morrison says biomodelling is the creation of full size, physically accurate models using data from medical scanners. Biomodels can be drilled and cut to allow simulated operating procedures.

The new product is a spin-off from research being carried out on a project funded by Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology - which invests in new products, processes or services.

"We were working on a project to develop a prosthetic spinal replacement when we realised there had to be a better way of getting accurate models of individual patients' skeletal structure," Mr Morrison says. "So we looked at biomodelling that involved taking CT scans and converting the data to a solid form.

"We have successfully created plastic biomodels that surgeons - particularly those involved in facial reconstruction - are finding very useful and saves them considerable time."

Christchurch oral and facial surgeon Jim Worthington says the biomodels are invaluable in many complex situations. In one case, tumour had eroded the bone of a 69-year-old patient. A plate could not be fashioned directly on the bone at the time of surgery so a biomodel was created. This allowed the plate to be "pre-made".

"It would have been difficult to reproduce the original three-dimensional structure of the required bone replacement without a biomodel," Mr Worthington says. "The excellent anatomical reproduction allowed us to complete the surgery in just 25 minutes."

Meanwhile, Enztech is continuing to make progress on the development of the prosthetic spinal replacement. "It is an intensive development project and we are grateful for the support from the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology," Mr Morrison says. "The spin-off from our initial research looks likely to lead to a new export product - something that might not have happened without the funding."


Contact: * Paul Morrison, Enztec NZ, Ph: (03) 348-0203. Email * Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, (04) 917-7800 or 025 454-095. Website:

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Media Ltd. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, Email:

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