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UT Health Science Center, Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare Complete Milestone ‘Jaw in a Day’ Surgery for Teen Patient

Surgeons from different specialties at UT Health Science Center collaborated to perform the first “Jaw in a Day” surgery in the Mid-South at Methodist Le Bonheur Hospital recently. They are, front row from left: Jeffrey Brooks, DMD, professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Brett Wilson, DDS, associate professor and program director for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; Anas Eid, MD, chief of Facial Plastic Surgery and lead surgeon; C. Burton Wood MD, assistant professor of head and neck surgical oncology in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In back, John Gleestyn, MD, associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology Head-Neck Surgery. Photo by Natalie Clay.

A team of surgeons from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in partnership with Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare recently completed a revolutionary “Jaw in a Day” surgery, the first of its kind in Tennessee and the Mid-South region. Conducted at Methodist University Hospital, the surgery involved removing an advanced tumor from the face of a teenage patient and fully reconstructing the jaw in a single day.

Dr. Anas Eid

This major accomplishment marks a significant advancement in facial plastic surgery, as traditional methods usually require multiple procedures over a period of several months to years. Anas Eid, MD, chief of Facial Plastic Surgery in the UT Health Science Center College of Medicine, and leader of the “Jaw in a Day” surgery team, said in addition to advancing the science of facial surgery, this procedure significantly improves the patient’s experience from the surgery through the recovery process.

“The significant advantage of the ‘Jaw in a Day’ procedure is its ability to substantially shorten the treatment timeline. This results in a faster recovery time, less discomfort, and an improved quality of life for the patient, allowing them to reintegrate into their normal life more swiftly,” Dr. Eid said.

Currently, UT Health Science Center and Methodist University Hospital are the only institutions in Tennessee and the surrounding area to offer “Jaw in a Day” surgery. “We were happy to collaborate with our academic partner UT Health Science Center to pioneer this transformative procedure for our region, as it’s our unwavering commitment to offer the Mid-South the most advanced surgical care possible,” said Methodist University President Tim Slocum, FACHE. “We believe everyone should have access to the highest quality safest care close to their own backyard and will continue to pursue the highest level of excellence in delivering on our promise.”

The teenage patient was diagnosed with advanced Ameloblastoma, a tumor in the jawbone predominantly affecting the right side of the face. The tumor caused significant damage to the patient’s facial bones, and removing it also required the removal of the maxilla, or upper jaw, and the orbital floor, the bottom of the eye socket. These damaged skull components were reconstructed using a vascularized fibula flap, part of the patient’s leg bone and the attached blood vessels.

The procedure required extensive planning. Top row shows preoperative patient scans, the bottom row is the surgically simulated 3D plan.

While the procedure took place in just a day, it required extensive planning using advanced technology in addition to surgical expertise. The team used the patient’s CT scans to create 3D images of the jaw and leg, then designed a 3D model of the jaw reconstructed from the leg bone. Custom-made prosthetic teeth were also designed to match the patient’s natural jawline and bite. On the day of the surgery, the patient’s diseased jawbone was removed, and the leg bone was implanted with the prosthetic teeth and precisely cut to fit the design of the reconstructed jaw. The new jaw was then meticulously attached to the face under microscopic guidance to ensure the successful connection of vessels. Dr. Eid said the surgery concluded without any complications, and the patient is recuperating well.

“What is unique about this surgery is the precision it demands, and the deep understanding and appreciation each member of the surgical team has to the other surgical services involved,” Dr. Eid said. “I am privileged to be surrounded by an exceptional team of highly skilled and specialized surgeons who can execute highly complex surgeries, not just independently, but collaboratively. The camaraderie that this team exhibits is exceptional.”

In addition to Dr. Eid, the team consisted of highly skilled surgeons including C. Burton Wood, MD, assistant professor of head and neck surgical oncology in the Department of Otolaryngology; Jeffrey Brooks, DMD, professor and chair of the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in the College of Dentistry; Brett Wilson, DDS, associate professor and program director for Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery; and a supporting staff of scrub technologists, nurses, clinic staff, and prosthodontics.

Dr. Eid holds the part of the fibula fixated to the 3D model to ensure precision.

 “Our team performs a large number of free flap reconstructions for head and neck tumors, as do many institutions across the country. But performing a reconstruction that includes not only dental implants but prosthetic teeth all in a single procedure is effectively the state of the art at present,” Dr. Wood said. “There are not many institutions that currently offer these procedures. I am proud to be a part of a team that can collaborate in the planning, design, and execution of a procedure with this high degree of complexity. I am proud to be able to offer this type of procedure to our patients in Memphis and the surrounding region.”

“A complex procedure of this magnitude solidifies the valuable ongoing relationship between Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare and UT Health Science Center, which fosters multidisciplinary collaboration and resource-sharing,” Slocum said. “We champion opportunities to deliver advanced patient care to all we are privileged to serve.”

“This accomplishment shows that UT Health Science Center is willing to push the boundaries of what is possible.”

Dr. Brett Wilson

Dr. Wilson, who led the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery team in this procedure, said the collaboration between surgical services at UT Health Science Center was the key factor that contributed to the success of this surgery. “Dr. Eid has done an admirable job of creating and leading a team of facial surgeons from multiple departments to tackle these incredibly complex cases,” he said. “Many universities lack strong relationships between ‘sister’ surgical services, but that is not the case here at UT Health Science Center. We have an immense amount of collegiality between our departments, which ultimately results in our patients receiving the highest level of care.”

According to Dr. Eid, this achievement underscores the quality, dedication, and innovation brought forth by each member involved in this case. “The procedure is a testament to the level of creativity, as well as the enthusiasm and readiness of the faculty in all participating departments to challenge conventions, compete on a national level, and deliver cutting-edge surgical procedures,” he said.

“This accomplishment shows that UT Health Science Center is willing to push the boundaries of what is possible,” Dr. Wilson said. “Above all else, though, it shows that UT Health Science Center is committed to our patients. We truthfully have the patient’s best interest in mind and are dedicated to providing people across Tennessee and the Mid-South with the best and most up-to-date care.”