UCT engineers help make medical history

From the UCT website:

If nature abhors a vacuum, it sometimes needs a helping hand to fill the gaps.
A push - or, to be more exact, a tug - is exactly what a team made up of UCT mechanical engineer Dr George Vicatos, his MSc student James Boonzaier and maxillo-facial oral surgeon Dr Rushdi Hendricks offered nature. In a benchmarking and already award-winning piece of surgery - likely a world first - in September, they harnessed some established surgical principles and fine metalwork to rebuild a patient's entire missing palate.
But instead of tucking in a prosthetic or a bone graft, as is common, they simply coaxed the palate to seal itself.
A cleft palate is, basically, a hole in the roof of the mouth where the palate should be. It's typically formed when the body's natural structures don't fuse as they should before birth. Usually these clefts are filled by surgery soon after birth or in early childhood.
The problem also remains common among adults, such as when cancerous palates are removed in later life, for example.