Three-Dimensional Printing and Its Applications in Otorhinolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery

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Abstract

Objective

Three-dimensional (3D)-printing technology is being employed in a variety of medical and surgical specialties to improve patient care and advance resident physician training. As the costs of implementing 3D printing have declined, the use of this technology has expanded, especially within surgical specialties. This article explores the types of 3D printing available, highlights the benefits and drawbacks of each methodology, provides examples of how 3D printing has been applied within the field of otolaryngology–head and neck surgery, discusses future innovations, and explores the financial impact of these advances.

Data Sources

Articles were identified from PubMed and Ovid MEDLINE.

Review Methods

PubMed and Ovid Medline were queried for English articles published between 2011 and 2016, including a few articles prior to this time as relevant examples. Search terms included 3-dimensional printing, 3D printing, otolaryngology, additive manufacturing, craniofacial, reconstruction, temporal bone, airway, sinus, cost, and anatomic models.

Conclusions

Three-dimensional printing has been used in recent years in otolaryngology for preoperative planning, education, prostheses, grafting, and reconstruction. Emerging technologies include the printing of tissue scaffolds for the auricle and nose, more realistic training models, and personalized implantable medical devices.

Implications for Practice

After the up-front costs of 3D printing are accounted for, its utilization in surgical models, patient-specific implants, and custom instruments can reduce operating room time and thus decrease costs. Educational and training models provide an opportunity to better visualize anomalies, practice surgical technique, predict problems that might arise, and improve quality by reducing mistakes.

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