From Patient to Procedure: The Process of Creating a Custom 3D-Printed Medical Device for Foot and Ankle Pathology

Foot Ankle Spec. 2021 Jun;14(3):271-280. doi: 10.1177/1938640020971415. Epub 2020 Dec 3.


Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology has advanced greatly over the past decade and is being used extensively throughout the field of medicine. Several orthopaedic surgery specialties have demonstrated that 3D printing technology can improve patient care and physician education. Foot and ankle pathology can be complex as the 3D anatomy can be challenging to appreciate. Deformity can occur in several planes simultaneously and bone defects either from previous surgery or trauma can further complicate surgical correction. Three-dimensional printing technology provides an avenue to tackle the challenges associated with complex foot and ankle pathology. A basic understanding of how these implants are designed and made is important for surgeons as this technology is becoming more widespread and the clinical applications continue to grow within foot and ankle surgery.Levels of Evidence: Level V.

Keywords: Amputation and limb salvage; arthritis and joint disease; bone healing/orthobiologics; comorbid conditions; complex foot and ankle conditions; external and internal fixation; foot surgery techniques; trauma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ankle / surgery*
  • Ankle Injuries / surgery
  • Foot / surgery*
  • Foot Injuries / surgery
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Orthopedic Procedures / methods*
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Prostheses and Implants*
  • Prosthesis Design / instrumentation
  • Prosthesis Design / methods*
  • Prosthesis Implantation / methods