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Adjunctive use of medical modeling for head and neck reconstruction

Zenga, Joseph; Nussenbaum, Brian

Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery: August 2013 - Volume 21 - Issue 4 - p 335–343
doi: 10.1097/MOO.0b013e328362a4f5

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.

Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, Missouri, USA

Correspondence to Brian Nussenbaum, MD, Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, Washington University School of Medicine, 660 South Euclid Avenue, CB 8115, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA. Tel: +1 314 362 6599; e-mail:

© 2013 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins