The Digital Thread for Personalized Craniomaxillofacial Surgery

  • Andrew M. Christensen
  • Katherine Weimer
  • Christopher Beaudreau
  • Michael Rensberger
  • Benjamin Johnson


Digital technologies are impacting reconstructive surgery like never before. The convergence of volumetric medical imaging, powerful software tools, and 3D printing is enabling personalized surgery. The craniomaxillofacial (CMF) specialty has always been an early adopter for volumetric medical imaging and 3D technologies, primarily driven by the need for functional and aesthetic outcomes, and dealing with the face, a very cosmetically and emotionally sensitive area. Reconstructive surgery of the CMF skeleton require precision, and this precision can be further refined by the use of digital technologies, both for the planning and the guidance of the procedure.

Virtually planning surgery in a computer environment using the patient’s medical imaging studies has completely transformed how 3D technologies can impact a case. A paradigm shift has happened whereby the digital plan for surgery can now be directly transferred to the patient using 3D printing guides, templates, and implants. This gives both more precision for the surgery and a road map for what was actually expected. Never before has such a tool existed to evaluate outcomes as compared to the plan and to learn both about technical factors like guide design and the surgeon’s skill level in carrying out the desired plan. There is now a report card which can be used to the betterment of surgical practice, and it’s powered by digital technology.

This chapter will explore the areas where 3D-enabled technologies have impacted CMF surgery as well as the current state of the art for virtually planned surgery with 3D printed guides, templates, and implants.


3D printing Virtual surgical planning Personalized surgery Precision medicine Custom implants Medical imaging Digital technology Cone beam imaging 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew M. Christensen
    • 1
  • Katherine Weimer
    • 2
  • Christopher Beaudreau
    • 2
  • Michael Rensberger
    • 2
  • Benjamin Johnson
    • 2
  1. 1.Division of Medical PhysicsUniversity of OttawaOttawaCanada
  2. 2.3D SystemsLittletonUSA

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