Medical 3D Printing Cost-Savings in Orthopedic and Maxillofacial Surgery: Cost Analysis of Operating Room Time Saved with 3D Printed Anatomic Models and Surgical Guides

Published:September 18, 2019DOI:


      Three-dimensional (3D) printed anatomic models and surgical guides have been shown to reduce operative time. The purpose of this study was to generate an economic analysis of the cost-saving potential of 3D printed anatomic models and surgical guides in orthopedic and maxillofacial surgical applications.


      A targeted literature search identified operating room cost-per-minute and studies that quantified time saved using 3D printed constructs. Studies that reported operative time differences due to 3D printed anatomic models or surgical guides were reviewed and cataloged. A mean of $62 per operating room minute (range of $22–$133 per minute) was used as the reference standard for operating room time cost. Different financial scenarios were modeled with the provided cost-per-minute of operating room time (using high, mean, and low values) and mean time saved using 3D printed constructs.


      Seven studies using 3D printed anatomic models in surgical care demonstrated a mean 62 minutes ($3720/case saved from reduced time) of time saved, and 25 studies of 3D printed surgical guides demonstrated a mean 23 minutes time saved ($1488/case saved from reduced time). An estimated 63 models or guides per year (or 1.2/week) were predicted to be the minimum number to breakeven and account for annual fixed costs.


      Based on the literature-based financial analyses, medical 3D printing appears to reduce operating room costs secondary to shortening procedure times. While resource-intensive, 3D printed constructs used in patients’ operative care provides considerable downstream value to health systems.

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