A Review of the Use of 3D Printing Technology in Treatment of Scaphoid Fractures

J Hand Surg Asian Pac Vol. 2023 Feb;28(1):22-33. doi: 10.1142/S2424835523500042. Epub 2023 Feb 13.


Background: Three-dimensional (3D) printing technology is increasingly commercially viable for pre-surgical planning, intraoperative templating, jig creation and customised implant manufacture. The challenging nature of scaphoid fracture and nonunion surgery make it an obvious target. The aim of this review is to determine the use of 3D printed technologies in the treatment of scaphoid fractures. Methods: This is a review of the Medline, Embase and Cochrane Library databases examining studies aimed at therapeutic use of 3D printing, also known as rapid prototyping or additive technology, in the treatment of scaphoid fractures. All studies published up to and including November 2020 were included in the search. Relevant data extracted included modality of use (as template/model/guide/prosthesis), operative time, accuracy of reduction, radiation exposure, follow-up duration, time to union, complications and study quality. Results: A total of 649 articles were identified, of which 12 met the full inclusion criteria. Analysis of the articles showed that 3D printing techniques can be utilised in myriad ways to aid planning and delivery of scaphoid surgery. Percutaneous guides for Kirschner-wire (K-wire) fixation of non-displaced fractures can be created; custom guides can be printed to aid reduction of displaced or non-united fractures; patient-specific total prostheses may recreate near-normal carpal biomechanics and a simple model may help graft harvesting and positioning. Conclusions: This review found that the use of 3D printed patient-specific models and templates in scaphoid surgery can improve accuracy and speed, and reduce radiation exposure. 3D printed prostheses may also restore near-normal carpal biomechanics without burning bridges for potential future procedures. Level of Evidence: Level III (Therapeutic).

Keywords: 3D printing; Additive manufacturing; Pre-operative planning; Rapid prototyping; Scaphoid fracture; Scaphoid nonunion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Fracture Fixation, Internal / methods
  • Fractures, Bone* / diagnostic imaging
  • Fractures, Bone* / surgery
  • Humans
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional
  • Scaphoid Bone* / diagnostic imaging
  • Scaphoid Bone* / surgery
  • Wrist Injuries* / diagnostic imaging
  • Wrist Injuries* / surgery