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The efficacy of 3D printing-assisted surgery for traumatic fracture: a meta-analysis


Background Recent years have witnessed a rapid development of three-dimensional (3D) printing technology applied in orthopaedic surgery. To be assisted by 3D printing is a potent method to realise accurate and individualised operation. The objective of this meta-analysis was to assess the efficacy of 3D printing technology in the management of trauma fractures.

Methods PubMed, Embase and the Cochrane Library were systematically searched up until January 2019 to identify relevant studies. All clinical studies comparing conventional surgery and 3D printing-assisted surgery in the management of orthopaedic trauma were obtained. The meta-analysis was performed with RevMan V.5.3 software.

Results Four randomised controlled trials, four retrospective comparative studies and two prospective comparative studies involving 521 patients were included. Compared with conventional surgery, 3D printing-assisted surgery leads to shorter operation duration (mean difference (MD) −16.59 (95% CI −18.60 to –14.58), p<0.001), less intraoperative blood loss (standardised mean difference (SMD) −1.02 (95% CI –1.25 to –0.79), p<0.001) and fewer intraoperative fluroscopies (SMD −2.20 (95% CI –2.50 to –1.90), p<0.001). However, 3D printing-assisted surgery leads to longer hospital stay (MD 2.51 (95% CI 0.31 to –4.72), p=0.03). No significant results were found regarding fracture healing time, the rate of excellent and good outcomes, anatomical reduction and complications.

Conclusions These results suggest that 3D printing-assisted surgery outperforms conventional surgery in the management of orthopaedic trauma fractures with shorter operation duration, less intraoperative blood loss and fewer intraoperative fluoroscopies.

  • additive manufacturing
  • fracture
  • meta-analysis
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