ObjectiveTo reconstruct the auricle using a porous, hollow, three-dimensional (3D)-printed mold and autologous diced cartilage mixed with platelet-rich plasma (PRP).
MethodsMaterialise Magics v20.03 was used to design a 3D, porous, hollow auricle mold. Ten molds were printed by selective laser sintering with polyamide. Cartilage grafts were harvested from one ear of a New Zealand rabbit, and PRP was prepared using 10 mL of auricular blood from the same animal. Ear cartilage was diced into 0.5- to 2.0-mm pieces, weighed, mixed with PRP, and then placed inside the hollow mold. Composite grafts were then implanted into the backs of respective rabbits (n = 10) for 4 months. The shape and composition of the diced cartilage were assessed histologically, and biomechanical testing was used to determine stiffness.
ResultsThe 3D-printed auricle molds were 0.6-mm thick and showed connectivity between the internal and external surfaces, with round pores of 0.1 to 0.3 cm. After 4 months, the diced cartilage pieces had fused into an auricular shape with high fidelity to the anthropotomy. The weight of the diced cartilage was 5.157 ± 0.230 g (P > 0.05, compared with preoperative). Histological staining showed high chondrocyte viability and the production of collagen II, glycosaminoglycans, and other cartilaginous matrix components. In unrestricted compression tests, auricle stiffness was 0.158 ± 0.187 N/mm, similar to that in humans.
ConclusionAuricle grafts were constructed successfully through packing a 3D-printed, porous, hollow auricle mold with diced cartilage mixed with PRP. The auricle cartilage contained viable chondrocytes, appropriate extracellular matrix components, and good mechanical properties.
Levels of evidenceNA. Laryngoscope, 129:2467-2474, 2019.