The role of 3D printing in treating craniomaxillofacial congenital anomalies

Christopher D. Lopez, Lukasz Witek, Andrea Torroni, Roberto L. Flores, David B. Demissie, Simon Young, Bruce N. Cronstein, Paulo G. Coelho

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Craniomaxillofacial congenital anomalies comprise approximately one third of all congenital birth defects and include deformities such as alveolar clefts, craniosynostosis, and microtia. Current surgical treatments commonly require the use of autogenous graft material which are difficult to shape, limited in supply, associated with donor site morbidity and cannot grow with a maturing skeleton. Our group has demonstrated that 3D printed bio-ceramic scaffolds can generate vascularized bone within large, critical-sized defects (defects too large to heal spontaneously) of the craniomaxillofacial skeleton. Furthermore, these scaffolds are also able to function as a delivery vehicle for a new osteogenic agent with a well-established safety profile. The same 3D printers and imaging software platforms have been leveraged by our team to create sterilizable patient-specific intraoperative models for craniofacial reconstruction. For microtia repair, the current standard of care surgical guide is a two-dimensional drawing taken from the contralateral ear. Our laboratory has used 3D printers and open source software platforms to design personalized microtia surgical models. In this review, we report on the advancements in tissue engineering principles, digital imaging software platforms and 3D printing that have culminated in the application of this technology to repair large bone defects in skeletally immature transitional models and provide in-house manufactured, sterilizable patient-specific models for craniofacial reconstruction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1055-1064
Number of pages10
JournalBirth Defects Research
Issue number13
StatePublished - Aug 1 2018


  • 3D printing
  • adenosine receptor
  • bio-ceramics
  • bone tissue engineering
  • dipyridamole
  • osseoconductive geometries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Embryology
  • Toxicology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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