The Use of a 3D Printer in Pre-operative Planning for a Patient Requiring Acetabular Reconstructive Surgery.
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J Orthop Case Rep
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INTRODUCTION: Surgical management of acetabular fractures is often highly complex, and a successful outcome depends upon an appreciation of the fracture pattern and the most appropriate approach to reduce and hold it. Currently, computed tomography (CT) images are used in conjunction with plain x-rays to identify the main fracture components and their spatial relationship to one another, and as such surgeons still have to make decisions based upon their ability to visualise the fracture from the images available. 3D printers have now become widely available and inexpensive, and can be used to rapidly produce life-size models based on CT scans of an individual patient. The availability of patient specific, accurate and detailed models of complex acetabular fractures can aid planning of surgical management on a patient specific basis. CASE REPORT: This report describes the use of a 3D printer to create a life-size model reconstruction of the pelvis of a 48 year old male patient who sustained a left sided associated both column acetabular fracture following a motorbike accident in the Sahara Desert. The model allowed visualisation of the multiple fracture fragments and their relative displacements. The tactile feedback allowed assessment of the different fracture fragments. The relative displacement of the quadrilateral plate and posterior column fragments could be assessed and the surgeon felt that these would be amenable to reduction from an ilioinguinal approach. An anatomic reduction was achieved and was held with the application of a pelvic brim plate with 2 screws lagging the posterior column/quadrilateral plate fragment. CONCLUSION: There are previous examples of 3D models being used in orthopaedic surgery through the use of rapid prototyping, however this method is usually expensive and time consuming. Advances in 3D printer technology offer surgeons a number of advantages when treating these complex fractures. With the ever-increasing economy, ease of use and speed of additive processing, the possible applications of this technology within orthopaedic surgery are numerous. Given the possible applications of this technology, and its ever increasing availability, we feel that its use can only improve patient outcomes and so should be explored further for use in orthopaedic surgery.