Feasibility of 3D-printed middle ear prostheses in partial ossicular chain reconstruction

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Despite advances in prosthesis materials, operating microscopes and surgical techniques during the last 50 years, long-lasting hearing improvement remains a challenge in ossicular chain reconstruction. Failures in the reconstruction are mainly due to inadequate length or shape of the prosthesis, or defects in the surgical procedure. 3D-printed middle ear prosthesis might offer a solution to individualize treatment and obtain better results. The aim of the study was to study the possibilities and limitations of 3D-printed middle ear prostheses. Design of the 3D-printed prosthesis was inspired by a commercial titanium partial ossicular replacement prosthesis. 3D models of different lengths (1.5-3.0 mm) were created with Solidworks 2019-2021 software. The prostheses were 3D-printed with vat photopolymerization using liquid photopolymer Clear V4. Accuracy and reproducibility of 3D printing were evaluated with micro-CT imaging. The acoustical performance of the prostheses was determined in cadaver temporal bones with laser Doppler vibrometry. In this paper, we present an outline of individualized middle ear prosthesis manufacturing. 3D printing accuracy was excellent when comparing dimensions of the 3D-printed prostheses and their 3D models. Reproducibility of 3D printing was good if the diameter of the prosthesis shaft was 0.6 mm. 3D-printed partial ossicular replacement prostheses were easy to manipulate during surgery even though they were a bit stiffer and less flexible than conventional titanium prostheses. Their acoustical performance was similar to that of a commercial titanium partial ossicular replacement prosthesis. It is possible to 3D print functional individualized middle ear prostheses made of liquid photopolymer with good accuracy and reproducibility. These prostheses are currently suitable for otosurgical training. Further research is needed to explore their usability in a clinical setting. In the future, 3D printing of individualized middle ear prostheses may provide better audiological outcomes for patients.
Original languageEnglish
Article number727
JournalInternational journal of bioprinting
Issue number4
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 4 Apr 2023
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 3D printing
  • Laser Doppler vibrometry
  • Middle ear transfer function
  • Ossicular chain reconstruction
  • Partial ossicular replacement prosthesis
  • Total ossicular replacement prosthesis
  • 217 Medical engineering
  • Best Poster Award

    Heikkinen, Anssi-Kalle V (Recipient), Feb 2023

    Prize: Prizes and awards

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