While discussing his recovery options with a professor at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), movie critic and former screenwriter Roger Ebert recently discovered that prostheses could give him the chin and jawline that thyroid cancer surgery largely removed.
Ebert will unveil his new prosthetic mandible on "Ebert Presents at the Movies," his newest television show, according to the New York Daily News.
In his personal journal published by the Chicago Sun-Times, Ebert wrote that the prosthesis is the end result of two years of work done by a group of artists, physicians and anaplastologists, which are health care experts specializing in the creation of prosthetics.
The critic wrote in the Sun-Times that shortly after undergoing surgery to remove papillary thyroid cancer, as well as his salivary glands and a section of his lower jaw, he "studiously avoided" looking in the mirror. Now, he has released a photo of himself wearing a new prosthetic jaw molded from silicone, which Ebert said will give the illusion of a normal jawline from a distance.
In his journal, he recounted meeting with Professor David Reisberg of UIC and asking the craniofacial specialist if he might wear a false beard to cover the lower half of his face.
Reisberg recommended a more advanced solution. By taking three-dimensional laser scans of Ebert's facial features and of a bust of his face created prior to his surgery, the physician was able to model a new jaw made of silicone.
After employing the help of a UIC orthotics expert and an anaplastologist from Milwaukee, Reisberg has presented Ebert with what essentially is a new lower jaw, colored to match his skin tone and shaped to fit directly to his face. Ebert reported being very pleased with the result.
The movie critic also made headlines in 2010 when a Scottish text-to-speech company created a personalized electronic voice for him, using thousands of hours of footage and audiotape of Ebert talking. Happy with his recovery and prosthesis, in his journal Ebert vowed to "flaunt it."
Papillary thyroid tumors account for 70 percent of all instances of thyroid cancer, according to Columbia University Medical Center.