To explore the potential viability and limitations of 3D printed models of children with cleft palate deformity.Background:
The advantages of 3D printed replicas of normal anatomical specimens have previously been described. The creation of 3D prints displaying patient-specific anatomical pathology for surgical planning and interventions is an emerging field. Here we explored the possibility of taking rare pediatric radiographic data sets to create 3D prints for surgical education.Methods:
Magnetic resonance imaging data of 2 children (8 and 14 months) were segmented, colored, and anonymized, and stereolothographic files were prepared for 3D printing on either multicolor plastic or powder 3D printers and multimaterial 3D printers.Results:
Two models were deemed of sufficient quality and anatomical accuracy to print unamended. One data set was further manipulated digitally to artificially extend the length of the cleft. Thus, 3 models were printed: 1 incomplete soft-palate deformity, 1 incomplete anterior palate deformity, and 1 complete cleft palate. All had cleft lip deformity. The single-material 3D prints are of sufficient quality to accurately identify the nature and extent of the deformities. Multimaterial prints were subsequently created, which could be valuable in surgical training.Conclusion:
Improvements in the quality and resolution of radiographic imaging combined with the advent of multicolor multiproperty printer technology will make it feasible in the near future to print 3D replicas in materials that mimic the mechanical properties and color of live human tissue making them potentially suitable for surgical training.