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Implants Made by Computer-Aided Design Provide Good Results in Patients with Rare Chest Muscle Deformity

For patients with Poland syndrome – a rare congenital condition affecting the chest muscle – computer-aided design (CAD) techniques can be used to create custom-made silicone implants for reconstructive surgery of the chest, reports a paper in the August issue of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery®, the official medical journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS).

The new technique provides good cosmetic outcomes and improves quality of life for patients with chest deformities related to Poland syndrome, according to the study by Jean-Pierre Chavoin, MD, of University Hospital Rangueil, Toulouse, France, and colleagues. They write, "The technique is simple, reliable, and yields high-quality results, and 3D CAD has optimized our reconstruction."

Custom-Made Implants Provide New Alternative for Treating Chest Deformity

Poland syndrome is a rare malformation that causes varying chest abnormalities, often with accompanying malformations of the hand. In these patients, largest muscle of the chest (pectoralis major) is absent or underdeveloped on one side, causing visible deformity. Poland syndrome occurs in about 1 out of 30,000 births; about three-fourths of affected patients are male.

Chest reconstruction in patients with Poland syndrome poses complex challenges for the surgeon. A wide range of procedures have been used, such as muscle flaps or silicone implants made from plaster molds. In recent years, Dr. Chavoin and colleagues have developed an innovative, minimally invasive approach: using 3D modeling with CAD technology to create customized silicone implants.

The implants are prepared according to a four-step process. A thin-section computed tomography scan of the patient's chest is obtained. The digital data are used to create a 3D CAD model of the implant, "virtually correcting" the patient's chest deformity. A prototype of the CAD model is prepared using 3D machining and used to cast a rubber silicone elastomer implant.

After sterilization, the customized implant can be placed under the patient's skin by a relatively simple surgical procedure. The article on the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery website illustrates the implant design and surgical procedure.

Since 2007, Dr. Chavoin and colleagues have used 3D CAD silicone implants to treat chest deformities in 68 patients with Poland syndrome: 46 males and 22 females, average age 26 years. To optimize the cosmetic results, most patients underwent additional procedures such as fat transfer (lipofilling) or, in women, breast implants.

Both men and women reported high satisfaction rates – more than 90 percent of patients rated their cosmetic outcomes as good or excellent. On a standard questionnaire, patient ratings indicated improvement in social and emotional aspects of quality of life. Some patients said they felt discomfort related to the implant during intense sporting activities. The implants and patient outcomes remained stable during long-term follow-up in 41 patients.

While most of their patients were operated on as adults, the researchers note that the procedure could be performed at younger ages – just after puberty – helping to avoid some of the psychological difficulties that can occur in adolescence and young adulthood. If the patient outgrows the implant, it can be replaced, or other procedures can be performed to improve the appearance of the chest.

Dr. Chavoin and colleagues previously reported the successful use of custom-made implants in patients with pectus excavataum ("sunken" or "funnel chest") deformity. Since developing their CAD implant approach, the researchers have "completely abandoned" other procedures for Poland syndrome, each of which has disadvantages and limitations. They conclude, "Obtaining an excellent result remains difficult in patients with Poland syndrome, but 3D CAD has optimized our reconstructions."

Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® is published by Wolters Kluwer.

Click here to read "Correcting Poland Syndrome with a Custom-Made Silicone Implant: Contribution of Three-Dimensional Computer-Aided Design Reconstruction"

Article: "Correcting Poland Syndrome with a Custom-Made Silicone Implant: Contribution of Three-Dimensional Computer-Aided Design Reconstruction" (doi: 10.1097/PRS.0000000000004605)

About Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery

For more than 70 years, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® has been the one consistently excellent reference for every specialist who uses plastic surgery techniques or works in conjunction with a plastic surgeon. The official journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery® brings subscribers up-to-the-minute reports on the latest techniques and follow-up for all areas of plastic and reconstructive surgery, including breast reconstruction, experimental studies, maxillofacial reconstruction, hand and microsurgery, burn repair, and cosmetic surgery, as well as news on medico-legal issues.

About ASPS

The American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS) is the world's largest organization of board-certified plastic surgeons. Representing more than 8,000 Member Surgeons, the Society is recognized as a leading authority and information source on aesthetic and reconstructive plastic surgery. ASPS comprises more than 93 percent of all board-certified plastic surgeons in the United States. Founded in 1931, the Society represents physicians certified by The American Board of Plastic Surgery or The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. ASPS advances quality care to plastic surgery patients by encouraging high standards of training, ethics, physician practice and research in plastic surgery.

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