Three-Dimensional Printed Patient Models for Complex Pediatric Spinal Surgery

Ochsner J. 2019 Spring;19(1):49-53. doi: 10.31486/toj.18.0117.


Background: Pediatric spinal deformity surgeries are challenging operations that require considerable expertise and resources. The unique anatomy and rarity of these cases present challenges in surgical training and preparation. We present a case series illustrating how 3-dimensional (3-D) printed models were used in preoperative planning for 3 cases of pediatric spinal deformity surgery. Case Series: Patient 1 was a 6-year-old male with scoliosis secondary to an L3 hemivertebra and severe congenital heart disease who underwent excision of the L3 hemivertebra and L2-L4 spinal fusion. Patient 2 was an 11-year-old male with an L2 hemivertebra and lumbar kyphosis who underwent excision of the L2 hemivertebra and T12-L4 spinal fusion. Patient 3 was a 6-year-old female with Down syndrome who presented with atlantoaxial instability and acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She underwent occipital-cervical spinal fusion and decompression. Prior to surgery, 3-D printed models of the patients' spines were created based on computed tomography (CT) imaging. Conclusion: The anatomic complexity and risk of devastating neurologic consequences in spine surgery call for careful preparations. 3-D models enable more efficient and precise surgical planning compared to the use of 2-dimensional CT/magnetic resonance images. The 3-D models also make it easier to visualize patient anatomy, allowing patients and their families who lack medical training to interpret and understand cross-sectional anatomy, which in our experience, enhanced the consultations.

Keywords: Imaging–three dimensional; orthopedics; pediatrics; scoliosis; spinal fusion; spine.

Publication types

  • Case Reports