Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing is a manufacturing technique whose process involves laying down of material, one layer on top of the other such that a solid object is formed. Its capability to produce objects of complicated geometrical shapes (otherwise unachievable by traditional manufacturing techniques) within a relatively short time and without extra tooling has made it ideal for prototyping and creation of customized products. In medicine, it finds application in replicating the medical imaging scans to actual tangible solid objects. This births immense potential as the models can be used to extend the pre-surgical preparations to include processes that are otherwise conducted intra-operatively. These include pre-bending the reconstruction plates to fit the patient’s anatomy almost perfectly. As such, the intra-operative time is reduced and along with it the perioperative risks and costs. The outcome is improved as well. In Kenya, there are very few Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and fewer facilities where patients can be attended to. A significant number of the cases presented to them require extensive reconstruction and the process is not only time consuming but also expensive. Therefore, a large number of patients fail to be attended to in due time causing much pain and suffering. Studies have shown that incorporating 3D printed patient specific models in treatment planning has a positive impact in reducing intra-operative time and consequently, costs. This review is part of a broader study proposal whose objective will be to investigate the impact of using patient specific 3D printed models in reconstructive surgery of the mandible.
Key words: 3D-printing, models, reconstructive surgery, mandible.
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