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Reply: The Current Role of Three-Dimensional Printing in Plastic Surgery

Kamali, Parisa M.D.; Lin, Samuel J. M.D., M.B.A.

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery: March 2017 - Volume 139 - Issue 3 - p 812e–813e
doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000003106

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Mass.

Correspondence to Dr. Lin, 110 Francis Street, Suite 5A, Boston, Mass. 02215,

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We thank Rogers-Vizena et al. for their interest in our study entitled “The Current Role of Three-Dimensional Printing in Plastic Surgery.”1 In their letter, they illustrate a case where the immediate use of an on-site accurate three-dimensional printer was demonstrated to be highly beneficial in terms of (1) increased ease of surgical procedure and decreased operative time, (2) improved precision of the procedure, and (3) faster time to surgery.

Application of three-dimensional printing within the medical field has gained widespread momentum in the past decade.1–3 As outlined in our article, there has been an increase in the use of three-dimensional printing within a variety of surgical specialties.1,3,4 Many have emphasized its role in surgical planning, medical education, patient education, and individual patient care.1–5 By constructing a three-dimensional model that can aid in precise discernment of human anatomy and/or pathology, one can enhance presurgical planning (potentially leading to reduced operative time), improve the learning experience of surgical trainees, and also educate patients.2,4 Moreover, implants can be individually contoured from desired materials based on three-dimensionally printed models, which may ultimately improve patient outcomes.4

Rogers-Vizena et al. state that the dialogue should be shifted from possible future applications to the current use of three-dimensional printing and improving practices today, as this technology is currently available in many institutions. We agree that this technology is able to improve practices today. Although large specialized teaching centers are likely to have three-dimensional printers, we are yet to reach the level where three-dimensional printing becomes a common practice in surgery. Three-dimensional printing is indeed making its way into the surgical departments of hospitals, and with our article we attempted to provide an overview of all of its possible current and future applications. Collaborating with other disciplines is key in increasing the sophistication of three-dimensional printing use and unlocking the true potential of three-dimensional printing in health care, and we applaud Rogers-Vizena et al. for the multidisciplinary collaboration within their institution.

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The authors have no financial information to disclose. There was no internal or external support for this study.

Parisa Kamali, M.D.

Samuel J. Lin, M.D., M.B.A.

Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Harvard Medical School

Boston, Mass.

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1. Kamali P, Dean D, Skoracki R, et alThe current role of three-dimensional printing in plastic surgery.Plast Reconstr Surg20161371045–1055
2. Ibrahim AM, Jose RR, Rabie AN, Gerstle TL, Lee BT, Lin SJThree-dimensional printing in developing countries.Plast Reconstr Surg Glob Open20153e443
3. Ventola CLMedical applications for 3D printing: Current and projected uses.P T201439704–711
4. Rengier F, Mehndiratta A, von Tengg-Kobligk H, et al3D printing based on imaging data: Review of medical applications.Int J Comput Assist Radiol Surg20105335–341
5. Gerstle TL, Ibrahim AM, Kim PS, Lee BT, Lin SJA plastic surgery application in evolution: Three-dimensional printing.Plast Reconstr Surg2014133446–451
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