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16.06.2018 | Original Article | Ausgabe 5/2018 Open Access

European Journal of Plastic Surgery 5/2018

Applications and limitations of using patient-specific 3D printed molds in autologous breast reconstruction

European Journal of Plastic Surgery > Ausgabe 5/2018
Stefan Hummelink, Arico C. Verhulst, Thomas J. J. Maal, Dietmar J. O. Ulrich



Over the last years, several techniques have been proposed to improve the outcome of autologous breast reconstruction procedures. One of these innovations describes patient-specific, three-dimensional (3D) printed breast molds for intraoperative use based on 3D stereophotogrammetry. In this article, we want to share our preliminary experiences with producing such templates, its clinical possibilities and limitations in practice.


Patient-specific templates were designed based on 3D stereophotogrammetry images. The 3D template was fabricated using a 3D printer. During breast reconstruction, the autologous flap was placed inside the printed template to aid the surgeon in determining the shape and volume of the autologous flap creating the desired breast dimensions. Patients were 3D-photographed 6 to 9 months post-operatively.


Three patients with unilateral breast reconstructions showed a width difference of 0.5 cm and mean volume difference of 211 ml between the reconstructed and contralateral breasts. In the three bilateral reconstructed patients, a mean difference in breast width and volume of respectively 0.5 cm and 16 ml was found.


Patient-specific breast templates are inexpensive and relatively easy to design, while being practical and convenient to obtain insight in the dimensions of the desired breast during reconstruction, according to the operating surgeons. Patient selection is however critical, as patients must have sufficient donor volume and/or satisfying breast shape to be able to use the template to its full potential.
Level of evidence: Level IV, therapeutic study.

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