Skip to main page content
Access keys NCBI Homepage MyNCBI Homepage Main Content Main Navigation
Review
, 42 (1), 7-13

Three-dimensional Printed Upper-Limb Prostheses Lack Randomised Controlled Trials: A Systematic Review

Affiliations
Review

Three-dimensional Printed Upper-Limb Prostheses Lack Randomised Controlled Trials: A Systematic Review

Laura E Diment et al. Prosthet Orthot Int.

Abstract

Background: Three-dimensional printing provides an exciting opportunity to customise upper-limb prostheses.

Objective: This review summarises the research that assesses the efficacy and effectiveness of three-dimensional printed upper-limb prostheses.

Study design: Systematic review.

Methods: PubMed, Web of Science and OVID were systematically searched for studies that reported human trials of three-dimensional printed upper-limb prostheses. The studies matching the language, peer-review and relevance criteria were ranked by level of evidence and critically appraised using the Downs and Black Quality Index.

Results: After removing duplicates, 321 records were identified. Eight papers met the inclusion criteria. No studies used controls; five were case studies and three were small case-series studies. All studies showed promising results, but none demonstrated external validity, avoidance of bias or statistically significant improvements over conventional prostheses. The studies demonstrated proof-of-concept rather than assessing efficacy, and the devices were designed to prioritise reduction of manufacturing costs, not customisability for comfort and function.

Conclusion: The potential of three-dimensional printing for individual customisation has yet to be fully realised, and the efficacy and effectiveness to be rigorously assessed. Until randomised controlled trials with follow-up are performed, the comfort, functionality, durability and long-term effects on quality of life remain unknown. Clinical relevance Initial studies suggest that three-dimensional printing shows promise for customising low-cost upper-limb prosthetics. However, the efficacy and effectiveness of these devices have yet to be rigorously assessed. Until randomised controlled trials with follow-up are performed, the comfort, functionality, durability and long-term effects on patient quality of life remain unknown.

Keywords: Computer-aided design–computer-aided manufacturing; children’s prosthetics; evaluation studies; prosthetic design; rapid prototyping; study design; upper-limb prosthetics.

Conflict of interest statement

Declaration of conflicting interests: The author(s) declared no potential conflicts of interest with respect to the research, authorship and/or publication of this article.

Figures

Figure 1.
Figure 1.
Flow chart of the selection and sorting method.

Similar articles

See all similar articles

Cited by 3 articles

References

    1. Berman B. 3-D printing: the new industrial revolution. Bus Horizons 2012; 55(2): 155–162.
    1. Dimitrov D, Schreve K, De Beer N. Advances in three dimensional printing – state of the art and future perspectives. Rapid Prototyping J 2006; 12(3): 136–147.
    1. E-NABLE. Enabling the future, enablingthefuture.org (2015, accessed 6 September 2016).
    1. Open Bionics. The next generation of bionics, www.openbionics.com (2016, accessed 6 September 2016).
    1. Khasnabis C. Standards for prosthetics and orthotics service provision 2015–2017 work plan, 2015, pp. 1–22, http://www.who.int/phi/implementation/assistive_technology/workplan_p-o_standards.pdf
Feedback