Three-dimensional printing for craniofacial bone tissue engineering

Chen Shen, Lukasz Witek, Roberto L. Flores, Nick Tovar, Andrea Torroni, Paulo G. Coelho, F. Kurtis Kasper, Mark Wong, Simon Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The basic concepts from the fields of biology and engineering are integrated into tissue engineering to develop constructs for the repair of damaged and/or absent tissues, respectively. The field has grown substantially over the past two decades, with particular interest in bone tissue engineering (BTE). Clinically, there are circumstances in which the quantity of bone that is necessary to restore form and function either exceeds the patient's healing capacity or bone's intrinsic regenerative capabilities. Vascularized osseous or osteocutaneous free flaps are the standard of care with autologous bone remaining the gold standard, but is commonly associated with donor site morbidity, graft resorption, increased operating time, and cost. Regardless of the size of a craniofacial defect, from trauma, pathology, and osteonecrosis, surgeons and engineers involved with reconstruction need to consider the complex three-dimensional (3D) geometry of the defect and its relationship to local structures. Three-dimensional printing has garnered significant attention and presents opportunities to use craniofacial BTE as a technology that offers a personalized approach to bony reconstruction. Clinicians and engineers are able to work together to produce patient-specific space-maintaining scaffolds tailored to site-specific defects, which are osteogenic, osseoconductive, osseoinductive, encourage angiogenesis/vasculogenesis, and mechanically stable upon implantation to prevent immediate failure. In this work, we review biological and engineering principles important in applying 3D printing technology to BTE for craniofacial reconstruction as well as present recent translational advancements in 3D printed bioactive ceramic scaffold technology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1303-1311
Number of pages9
JournalTissue Engineering - Part A
Issue number23-24
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • 3D printing
  • Biomaterials
  • Bone tissue engineering
  • Scaffold

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biochemistry
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Biomaterials


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