BackgroundMedical 3D printing is expanding exponentially, with tremendous potential yet to be realized in nearly all facets of medicine. Unfortunately, multiple informal subdomain-specific isolated terminological 'silos' where disparate terminology is used for similar concepts are also arising as rapidly. It is imperative to formalize the foundational terminology at this early stage to facilitate future knowledge integration, collaborative research, and appropriate reimbursement. The purpose of this work is to develop objective, literature-based consensus-building methodology for the medical 3D printing domain to support expert consensus.
ResultsWe first quantitatively survey the temporal, conceptual, and geographic diversity of all existing published applications within medical 3D printing literature and establish the existence of self-isolating research clusters. We then demonstrate an automated objective methodology to aid in establishing a terminological consensus for the field based on objective analysis of the existing literature. The resultant analysis provides a rich overview of the 3D printing literature, including publication statistics and trends globally, chronologically, technologically, and within each major medical discipline. The proposed methodology is used to objectively establish the dominance of the term "3D printing" to represent a collection of technologies that produce physical models in the medical setting. We demonstrate that specific domains do not use this term in line with objective consensus and call for its universal adoption.
ConclusionOur methodology can be applied to the entirety of medical 3D printing literature to obtain a complete, validated, and objective set of recommended and synonymous definitions to aid expert bodies in building ontological consensus.