Purpose of review: Craniofacial surgeons must continually make decisions about how to best reconstruct the craniomaxillofacial skeleton (CFS). A high priority has been placed on the search for bone substitute materials (BSMs) that are both mechanically and biologically optimized for these reconstructions. This review is intended to present the complexity of this undertaking to physicians and scientists by reviewing the technological advances published in the last 2 years.
Recent findings: Advances in bone tissue engineering took place in the areas of scaffolds, bioactive factors (e.g. growth factors, cytokines, and pharmaceuticals), and cellular components. Recent literature highlighted the complex interplay between these elements. Researchers also made great strides in merging high-resolution imaging with computer-aided tissue engineering.
Summary: Developing BSMs that fulfill the many needs in the CFS is difficult and there are multiple barriers to clinical translation. However, based on the progress in the last 2 years in the individual elements of BSM development as well as integration of those elements into implantable constructs, it appears that a product with specific CFS applications is on the horizon.