Computer-aided design and 3D printing for airway graft carving simulation and the effect on participants performance and confidence

Yael Friedland, Tricia Cheah, Glenn E. Green, David A. Zopf, Jennifer F. Ha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Background: Airway reconstruction is a complex procedure that relies on specialized skills and experience. Surgical simulation can provide adequate opportunities within a safe non-operative environment to refine practice and achieve clinical competency. Three-dimensional (3D) printing via computer-aided design (CAD) is used in this study to create a high-fidelity simulation model, with the aim to assess the usefulness and value of such a tool to improve trainees’ ability and confidence in airway reconstruction techniques. Methods: Using a prospective observational design, participants performed a physical simulator task using a 3D printed costal cartilage graft model. Participants’ ability and confidence was measured using a Likert-scale questionnaire. Results: There were 26 participants included, of which 66.7% had not participated prior in an airway reconstructive procedure. With both anterior and posterior grafts, there was a significant improvement in mean time taken to carve the second graft when compared with the first graft. Participant confidence, as well as self-rated ability, also increased with subsequent grafts performed, in both anterior and posterior grafts. These results were further substantiated by assessment of ability by a senior airway surgeon. Conclusions: This Australian study demonstrates the value of 3D printing to create a producible, inexpensive simulation model for cartilage graft carving in airway reconstruction, and ultimately improve participant performance and confidence.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1
JournalAustralian Journal of Otolaryngology
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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