Computer-Aided Design and 3-Dimensional Printing for Costal Cartilage Simulation of Airway Graft Carving

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Abstract

Autologous cartilage grafting during open airway reconstruction is a complex skill instrumental to the success of the operation. Most trainees lack adequate opportunities to develop proficiency in this skill. We hypothesized that 3-dimensional (3D) printing and computer-aided design can be used to create a high-fidelity simulator for developing skills carving costal cartilage grafts for airway reconstruction. The rapid manufacturing and low cost of the simulator allow deployment in locations lacking expert instructors or cadaveric dissection, such as medical missions and Third World countries. In this blinded, prospective observational study, resident trainees completed a physical simulator exercise using a 3D-printed costal cartilage grafting tool. Participant assessment was performed using a Likert scale questionnaire, and airway grafts were assessed by a blinded expert surgeon. Most participants found this to be a very relevant training tool and highly rated the level of realism of the simulation tool.

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