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In the era of increasingly difficult and expensive-to-come-by cadaveric temporal bones with which to practise drilling and learn the complex 3D anatomy of the temporal bone, decent alternatives would be welcome. McMillan et al report a prospective comparison study in which four consultant neurotologists and three senior residents each drilled five different 3D-printed temporal bone models. The models were printed from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic filament, photopolymerizable polymer (Photo), polycarbonate (PC), and two types of photocrosslinkable acrylic resin, using standard (FLW) and tough resin (FLB). Temporal Bone Model Questionnaires were completed by each surgeon for each model, to evaluate both the haptic sensation and temporal bone anatomy thereof. A summary grade identified each model’s ability to replicate the process of performing a cortical mastoidectomy in vivo. Anatomical representation (contour, antrum, tegmen, otic capsule and sigmoid sinus) were deemed best in the Photo and PC models. Functional performance (texture, odour, powder production, drilling pitch) was found to be superior in the FLW, PC and Photo models. Overall, PC and Photo models were found most suitable for simulation. To neurotologists with a particular interest in training others in mastoid and skull base surgery, this study is invaluable, almost reading like a consumer organisation product assessment report: McMillan et al provide a thorough assessment of intriguing artificial alternatives to cadaveric temporal bones, discussing costs involved in procuring different printers and producing the models, and highlighting the importance of further research into the safety of aerosolised dust particles. Excellent work!

Comparison of Materials Used for 3D-Printing Temporal Bone Models to Simulate Surgical Dissection.
McMillan A, Kocharyan A, Dekker SE, et al.
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Lucy Dalton

University Hospitals Birmingham, UK.

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