Integration of 3D-printed middle ear models and middle ear prostheses in otosurgical training

Sini Lähde, Yasmin Hirsi, Mika Salmi, Antti Mäkitie, Saku T. Sinkkonen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Background: In otosurgical training, cadaveric temporal bones are primarily used to provide a realistic tactile experience. However, using cadaveric temporal bones is challenging due to their limited availability, high cost, and potential for infection. Utilizing current three-dimensional (3D) technologies could overcome the limitations associated with cadaveric bones. This study focused on how a 3D-printed middle ear model can be used in otosurgical training. Methods: A cadaveric temporal bone was imaged using microcomputed tomography (micro-CT) to generate a 3D model of the middle ear. The final model was printed from transparent photopolymers using a laser-based 3D printer (vat photopolymerization), yielding a 3D-printed phantom of the external ear canal and middle ear. The feasibility of this phantom for otosurgical training was evaluated through an ossiculoplasty simulation involving ten otosurgeons and ten otolaryngology–head and neck surgery (ORL-HNS) residents. The participants were tasked with drilling, scooping, and placing a 3D-printed partial ossicular replacement prosthesis (PORP). Following the simulation, a questionnaire was used to collect the participants' opinions and feedback. Results: A transparent photopolymer was deemed suitable for both the middle ear phantom and PORP. The printing procedure was precise, and the anatomical landmarks were recognizable. Based on the evaluations, the phantom had realistic maneuverability, although the haptic feedback during drilling and scooping received some criticism from ORL-HNS residents. Both otosurgeons and ORL-HNS residents were optimistic about the application of these 3D-printed models as training tools. Conclusions: The 3D-printed middle ear phantom and PORP used in this study can be used for low-threshold training in the future. The integration of 3D-printed models in conventional otosurgical training holds significant promise.

Original languageEnglish
Article number451
Number of pages9
JournalBMC Medical Education
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2024
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • 3D printing
  • Middle ear
  • Ossicles
  • Ossiculoplasty
  • PORP
  • Temporal bone


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