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The cutting edge of customized surgery: 3D-printed models for patient-specific interventions in otology and auricular management-a systematic review

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PURPOSE: 3D-printing (three-dimensional printing) is an emerging technology with promising applications for patient-specific interventions. Nonetheless, knowledge on the clinical applicability of 3D-printing in otology and research on its use remains scattered. Understanding these new treatment options is a prerequisite for clinical implementation, which could improve patient outcomes. This review aims to explore current applications of 3D-printed patient-specific otologic interventions, including state of the evidence, strengths, limitations, and future possibilities.

METHODS: Following the PRISMA statement, relevant studies were identified through Pubmed, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, and Web of Science. Data on the manufacturing process and interventions were extracted by two reviewers. Study quality was assessed using Joanna Briggs Institute's critical appraisal tools.

RESULTS: Screening yielded 590 studies; 63 were found eligible and included for analysis. 3D-printed models were used as guides, templates, implants, and devices. Outer ear interventions comprised 73% of the studies. Overall, optimistic sentiments on 3D-printed models were reported, including increased surgical precision/confidence, faster manufacturing/operation time, and reduced costs/complications. Nevertheless, study quality was low as most studies failed to use relevant objective outcomes, compare new interventions with conventional treatment, and sufficiently describe manufacturing.

CONCLUSION: Several clinical interventions using patient-specific 3D-printing in otology are considered promising. However, it remains unclear whether these interventions actually improve patient outcomes due to lack of comparison with conventional methods and low levels of evidence. Further, the reproducibility of the 3D-printed interventions is compromised by insufficient reporting. Future efforts should focus on objective, comparative outcomes evaluated in large-scale studies.

Bibliographical note

© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature.

    Research areas

  • 3D-printing, Additive manufacturing, Ear surgery, Otology, Patient-specific

ID: 74470034