Meet the South African surgeon  Professor Mashudu Tsifularo who successfully performed the first-ever transplant surgery to cure deafness

Meet the South African surgeon  Professor Mashudu Tsifularo who successfully performed the first-ever transplant surgery to cure deafness

SA doctors cure deafness using 3D printing tech

– Trailblazing Professor Mashudu Tsifularo and his team have developed a surgical procedure using 3D-printed middle ear bone

– The surgical procedure using 3D may be the answer to conductive hearing loss

– The 3D-printed surgical transplant is the first-ever to be developed by the professor and his team at the University of Pretoria (UP) in South Africa

A renowned Professor Mashudu Tsifularo and his team at the University of Pretoria (UP), Faculty of Health in South Africa have developed 3D-printed middle ear bone with a potential of curing conductive hearing loss. reports that the 3D-printed surgical procedure may be the answer to conductive hearing loss, a middle ear problem caused by congenital birth defects, infection, trauma or metabolic diseases.

In March 2019, pioneering Prof Tshifularo made history as the first surgeon in the world to successfully perform a transplant surgery that allowed a 35-year old male recipient, whose middle ear was completely damaged in a car accident, to hear again.

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The procedure effectively replaces the hammer, anvil, and stirrup, the ossicles (smallest bones in the body) that make up the middle ear.

3D-printing technology was used to print these bones and then used in the surgery to reconstruct the ossicles.

The surgery simplifies the reconstruction of ossicles during middle ear procedures, such as ossiculoplasty and stapedectomy, in order to increase the chance of success with minimal intrusion trauma.

In addition, Prof Tshifularo’s procedure reduces the chance of facial nerve paralysis, which can occur if the facial nerve that passes through the middle ear space is damaged during traditional surgery.

Prof Tshifularo says ”3D technology is allowing us to do things we never thought we could [be done].”


A group of South African doctors  made a huge advancement in the international medical field by successfully completing the first-ever middle ear transplant.

The groundbreaking procedure was performed using 3D printing technology to reconstruct the broken bones of the patient’s middle ear and the surgery is being hailed as the first long-term solution to conductive hearing loss.

Patients of all ages will be able to safely undergo this pioneering procedure, even newborn babies. This unique procedure can effectively cure patients of a kind of deafness caused by inner ear damage or infections contracted from birth defects or metabolic diseases.

The patient who underwent the successful transplant was a 35-year-old male who had lost his hearing due to a car accident that severely damaged the inside of his ear. Due to the nature of the patient’s injuries, the operation lasted for roughly one and a half hours.

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Professor Mashudu Tshifularo explains the surgery:

According to the South African Hearing Institute, our hearing ability naturally declines from age 30 or 40. In fact, by age 80, more than half of humans suffer from significant hearing loss. While hearing loss is a natural part of ageing, it could also occur as a result of disease or infection. It may also be inherited or be the result of physical damage to the ears or head. This new transplanting procedure could change this seemingly permanent and unavoidable loss of hearing.

A number of specialists were involved in the surgery, including a medical team from the University of Pretoria’s Steve Biko Academic Hospital and specifically Professor Mashudu Tshifularo. He has been studying conductive hearing loss for a decade and more recently in the last two years looking into the use of 3D printing technology to scan and rebuild damaged areas of the ear, including some of the smallest bones in the body.


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