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Application of three-dimensional printed biomodels in endoscopic spinal surgery.

BACKGROUND: Three-dimensional printing (3DP) is increasingly used to individualise surgery and may be an effective tool for representing patient anatomy. Current literature on patient-specific anatomical models (biomodels) for minimally invasive spinal surgery is a limited number of case series and cohort studies. However, studies investigating 3DP in other specialties have reported multiple benefits.

METHODS: This prospective study considered a series of patients (n=33) undergoing elective endoscopic spinal surgery, including combinations of microdiscectomy (n=27), foraminotomy (n=7), and laminectomy (n=3). These surgeries were conducted at vertebral levels ranging from L2/3 to L5/S1. The surgeon then recorded the impact on preoperational planning, intraoperative decision-making and accelerating the learning curve with a qualitative questionnaire.

RESULTS: There were benefits to planning in 54.5% of cases (n=18), improved intraoperative decision-making in 60.6% of cases (n=20). These benefits were reported more frequently earlier in the cases, with improvements to learning reported in 60% of the first five cases and not in subsequent cases. The surgeon commented that the biomodels were more useful on.

CONCLUSIONS: The rates of preoperative and intraoperative benefits are consistent with existing studies, and the early benefit to the learning curve may be suitable for applications to surgical training. Additional research is required to determine the practicality of biomodels and their impact on patient outcomes for endoscopic spinal surgery.

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