Mashudu Tshifularo, a professor at the University of Pretoria made history by performing the world’s first 3D-printed middle-ear replacement surgery in 2019. Based in South Africa, Tshifularo used innovative 3D technology to print the bones that make up the middle ear (hammer, anvil, stirrup and the ossicles) and successfully implanted the model into a trauma patient.

“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, according to Good Things Guy.

Tshifularo — originally from Venda in Limpopo — is the Head of the Department of Otorhinolaryngology at the University of Pretoria and considered the top Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) specialist in the country. Under his leadership the department has launched the Steve Biko Roberts Kerr Cochlear Implants Project that has restored hearing to many economically challenged individuals.

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.

As South Africa’s first Black ENT specialist, Tshifularo has spent his time at the University of Pretoria, training more Black South African ENT specialists than any other institution in the country.

According to Good Things Guy, Tshifularo lives by the motto “innovate or perish,” and his career of first proves his dedication to the belief.

“Our future is in innovation towards excellent, internationally recognised solutions. Our aims are to improve safety and efficiency and to reduce costs in our communities as the field of ENT progresses,” Tshifularo told Good Things Guy.

Thank you, Prof. Mashudu Tshifularo! We honor you and your dedication to advancing the world of medicine, not only this month but every month of the year.