Design and Validation of a 3D Printed Cranio-Facial Simulator: A Novel Tool for Surgical Education

Joshua M. Wright, Jonathan M. Ford, Fatima Qamar, Matthew Lee, Jordan N. Halsey, Matthew D. Smyth, Summer J. Decker, S. Alex Rottgers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To assess the ability of current 3D printing technology to generate a craniofacial bony and soft tissue anatomical model for use in simulating the performance of a fronto-orbital advancement (FOA) osteotomy and then to further assess the value of the model as an educational tool. Design: Anatomic models were designed with a process of serial anatomic segmentation/design, 3D printing, dissection, and device refinement. A validation study was conducted with 5 junior and 5 senior plastic surgery residents. The validation study incorporated a multiple-choice Knowledge Assessment test (KA), an Objective Structured Assessment of Technical skills (OSATs), a Global Rating Scale (GRS) and a Michigan Standard Simulation Experience Scale (MiSSES). We compared the scores of both the junior and senior residents and compared junior resident scores, before and after viewing a lecture/demonstration. Results: MiSSES showed high face validity with a score of 85.1/90, signifying high satisfaction with the simulator learning experience. Simulation and the lecture/demonstration improved the junior resident average KA score from 5.6/10 to 9.6/10 (P =.02), OSATs score from 32.4/66 to 64.4/66 (P <.001) and GRS score from 13.9/35 to 27.5/35 (P <.001). The senior residents OSATs score of 56.3/66 was higher than the pre-lecture juniors (32.4/66) (P <.001), but lower than the post-lecture juniors (64.4/66) (P <.001). Conclusion: We have successfully fabricated a 3D printed craniofacial simulator capable of being used as an educational tool alongside traditional surgical training. Next steps would be improving soft tissue realism, inclusion of patient and disease specific anatomy and creation of models for other surgical specialties.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCleft Palate-Craniofacial Journal
StateAccepted/In press - 2023


  • 3D printing
  • craniofacial surgery
  • medical education
  • surgical simulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology


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