Purpose of review: To review the developing role of three-dimensional medical modeling in head and neck reconstruction surgery.
Recent findings: Various methods for three-dimensional modeling have been described with excellent accuracy and reproducibility by most reports. Model use has been applied to several otolaryngologic disease processes including maxillomandibular and orbital reconstruction, craniofacial and orthognathic surgery, and even trauma cases. These prototypes have been shown to aid in diagnostics and surgical preplanning including prefabricating hardware, as well as improving patient and physician education and decreasing operating times.
Summary: Although the surgeon should be aware of the possibility of imprecision, three-dimensional modeling has been shown to be accurate and affordable. The added expense may even be regained by the resulting decrease in OR time and the need for secondary procedures. Patients should be selected carefully and the decision to use three-dimensional modeling needs to balance the complexity of the case with timing and feasibility of model production. Recent innovations in rapid prototyping, including improved model biocompatibility and patient-specific tissue engineering, may improve patient outcomes and expand model applications in the future.