Three-Dimensional Printing in Cleft Care: A Systematic Review

Farrukh R. Virani, Evan C. Chua, Mary Roz Timbang, Tsung Yen Hsieh, Craig W. Senders

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To determine the current applications of 3-dimensional (3D) printing in the care of patients with cleft lip and palate. We also reviewed 3D printing limitations, financial analysis, and future implications. Design: Retrospective systematic review. Methods: Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses guidelines were used by 3 independent reviewers. Articles were identified from Cochrane library, Ovid Medline, and Embase. Search terms included 3D printing, 3 dimensional printing, additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, cleft lip, and cleft palate. Exclusion criteria included articles not in English, animal studies, reviews without original data, oral presentations, abstracts, opinion pieces, and articles without relevance to 3D printing or cleft lip and palate. Main Outcome Measures: Primary outcome measure was the purpose of 3D printing in the care of patients with cleft lip and palate. Secondary outcome measures were cost analysis and clinical outcomes. Results: Eight-four articles were identified, and 39 met inclusion/exclusion criteria. Eleven studies used 3D printing models for nasoalveolar molding. Patient-specific implants were developed via 3D printing in 6 articles. Surgical planning was conducted via 3D printing in 8 studies. Eight articles utilized 3D printing for anatomic models/educational purposes. 3-Dimensional printed models were used for surgical simulation/training in 6 articles. Bioprinting was utilized in 4 studies. Secondary outcome of cost was addressed in 8 articles. Conclusion: 3-Dimensional printing for the care of patients with cleft lip and palate has several applications. Potential advantages of utilizing this technology are demonstrated; however, literature is largely descriptive in nature with few clinical outcome measures. Future direction should be aimed at standardized reporting to include clinical outcomes, cost, material, printing method, and results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2021


  • 3-dimensional printing
  • anatomic model
  • bioprinting
  • cleft lip
  • cleft palate
  • nasoalveolar molding
  • patient education
  • patient-specific implants
  • surgical simulation
  • surgical training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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