Pursuing Mirror Image Reconstruction in Unilateral Microtia: Customizing Auricular Framework by Application of Three-Dimensional Imaging and Three-Dimensional Printing

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Abstract

Background:

Advances in three-dimensional imaging and three-dimensional printing technology have expanded the frontier of presurgical design for microtia reconstruction from two-dimensional curved lines to three-dimensional perspectives. This study presents an algorithm for combining three-dimensional surface imaging, computer-assisted design, and three-dimensional printing to create patient-specific auricular frameworks in unilateral microtia reconstruction.

Methods:

Between January of 2015 and January of 2016, six patients with unilateral microtia were enrolled. The average age of the patients was 7.6 years. A three-dimensional image of the patient’s head was captured by 3dMDcranial, and virtual sculpture carried out using Geomagic Freeform software and a Touch X Haptic device for fabrication of the auricular template. Each template was tailored according to the patient’s unique auricular morphology. The final construct was mirrored onto the defective side and printed out with biocompatible acrylic material.

Results:

During the surgery, the prefabricated customized template served as a three-dimensional guide for surgical simulation and sculpture of the MEDPOR framework. Average follow-up was 10.3 months. Symmetric and good aesthetic results with regard to auricular shape, projection, and orientation were obtained. One case with severe implant exposure was salvaged with free temporoparietal fascia transfer and skin grafting.

Conclusions:

The combination of three-dimensional imaging and manufacturing technology with the malleability of MEDPOR has surpassed existing limitations resulting from the use of autologous materials and the ambiguity of two-dimensional planning. This approach allows surgeons to customize the auricular framework in a highly precise and sophisticated manner, taking a big step closer to the goal of mirror-image reconstruction for unilateral microtia patients.

CLINCIAL QUESTION/LEVEL OF EVIDENCE:

Therapeutic, IV.

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