Mashudu Tshifularo South African professor and Otolaryngologist is the first person in the world to use 3D-printed bones for reconstructive middle ear implants.
Tshifularo is the head of the Department of Ear, Nose, Throat, Head, and Neck Surgery at the Otorhinolaryngology Department of the University of Pretoria, and started developing this technology during his Ph.D. studies. He and his team at the Steve Biko Academic Hospital in Pretoria performed the first transplant on 13 March 2019.
The endoscopic procedures lasted approximately 2 hours, Dr. Tshifularo and his team successfully pioneered a transplant of a patient’s middle ear to cure his deafness, making it the first in the world. The patient was a 35-year- old man who suffered hearing loss as a result of a car accident that damaged his inner ear. Using 3D technology, he was able to recreate the bones -the hammer, anvil, stirrup, and the ossicles that make up the inner ear, replacing the damaged ones.
The other transplant was a 62-year-old born with a middle ear issue who had previously undergone so many surgeries.
Tshifularo was born on June 18, 1964, in South Africa the third son of Florah Tshinovhea Tshifularo and Zacharia Thanyani Tshifularo. He grew up as a herdsman in the rural village of Mbahela outside Thohoyandou, in Venda, South Africa. According to reports, At the age of 13, Tshifularo knew he would be a medical doctor. He was married to Samdika Blessings Tshifularo and they have six children including their adopted children according to Wikipedia.
Since 1995 he has been a teacher and head of the Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Pretoria and Chief Specialist at MEDUNSA (currently Sefako Makgatho University of Health Sciences). He was named in 2000 as the youngest and only black professor of ENT in South Africa. His medical interests include otology, rhinology, and pediatric ENT.
Dr. Tshifularo during the surgery
Using a 3-D printer, Tshifularo creates implants that replace the ossicles: the hammer (malleus), anvil (incus), and stirrup (stapes) during middle ear reconstructive surgery, or tympanoplasty, that are more affordable compared to the traditional titanium implants.
“By replacing only the ossicles that aren’t functioning properly, the procedure carries significantly less risk than known prostheses and their associated surgical procedures. We will use titanium for this procedure, which is biocompatible. We use an endoscope to do the replacement, so the transplant is expected to be quick, with minimal scarring,” Tshifularo said,
Tshifularo’s 3D-printed middle-ear replacement surgery isn’t the first historical accomplishment of his medical career. In 2008, he made history by developing a surgical technique that allowed for a bloodless endoscope-assisted tonsillectomy, an operation that is considered to be the world’s first.
According to Good Things Guy, Tshifularo lives by the motto “innovate or perish,” and his career first proves his dedication to the belief.
“Our future is in innovation towards excellent, internationally recognized solutions. We aim to improve safety and efficiency and to reduce costs in our communities as the field of ENT progresses,” Tshifularo told Good Things, Guy.
Dr.shifularo with other doctors
Tshifularo is also the senior pastor and founder of the Christ Revealed Fellowship Church near Pretoria. He has authored several books in this ministry.