The value of stereolithographic models for preoperative diagnosis of craniofacial deformities and planning of surgical corrections

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Abstract.The purpose of this study was to assess the importance of stereolithographic models (SLMs) for preoperative diagnosis and planning in craniofacial surgery and to examine whether these models offer valuable additional information as compared to normal CT scans and 3D CT images. Craniofacial SLMs of 20 patients with craniomaxillofacial pathology were made. A helical volume CT scan of the anatomic area involved delivered the necessary data for their construction. These were built with an SLA 250 stereolithography apparatus (3D-Systems, Valencia, CA, USA), steered by FORM-IT/DCS® software (University of Zurich, Switzerland). The stereolithography models were classified according to pathology, type of surgery and their relevance for surgical planning. Though not objectively measurable, it was beyond doubt that relevant additional information for the surgeon was obtained in cases of hypertelorism, severe asymmetries of the neuro- and viscerocranium, complex cranial synostoses and large skull defects. The value of these models as realistic "duplicates" of complex or rare dysmorphic craniofacial pathology for the purpose of creating a didactic collection should also be emphasized. The models proved to be less useful in cases of consolidated fractures of the periorbital and naso-ethmoidal complex, except where there was major dislocation.

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