Simulation-guided navigation for vector control in pediatric mandibular distraction osteogenesis

Giovanni Badiali, Fabrizio Cutolo, Andrea Roncari, Claudio Marchetti, Alberto Bianchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Navigation technology has given surgeons the capacity to know precisely where their instruments are during surgery, and simulation-guided navigation is a surgical method which is based on the use of navigation technology linked to 3D virtual surgery simulation. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the absolute accuracy of simulation-guided navigation as an aid to reproduce the planned position of the distraction device vector in pediatric mandibular distraction osteogenesis.
We retrospectively evaluated seven patients affected by unilateral (3 pts.) or bilateral (4 pts.) mandibular hypoplasia and treated with this method between 2012 and 2014 at the Maxillofacial Surgery Unit of the University of Bologna, Italy. All patients were enrolled for mandibular distraction using internal unidirectional devices (11 distraction devices implanted overall). Patients were studied through a complete three-dimensional workflow, which led to obtaining a virtual reconstruction of the facial bones and the simulation of the distraction device positioning using a specific experimental software. The surgical planning was loaded on the navigation system and the distraction device was placed following the virtual plan, which is displayed on the navigation system as a guide and tracked with the navigation instruments.
We analyzed the outcome comparing the recorded three-dimensional coordinates of the achieved distractor position and the three-dimensional coordinates of the planned distractor position. Among the eleven placed distractors, we found a mean angular error of 3.74° ± 3.30° on the axial axis (yaw) and of 6.27° ± 5.32° on the sagittal axis (pitch), while median angular errors are 3.72° on the axial axis (yaw) and 4.08° on the sagittal axis (pitch).
Our preliminary experience seems to support that simulation-guided navigation for vector control in mandibular distraction osteogenesis could be a useful procedure for reproducing the virtually planned outcome. Nevertheless, our results cannot be considered completely satisfactory. There is a lot of room to improve accuracy and errors seem to depend mainly on the soft tissues interference during distractor placement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)969-980
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cranio-Maxillo-Facial Surgery
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Feb 14 2017


  • Computer assisted image analysis
  • Computer-assisted surgery
  • Congenital abnormality
  • Distraction osteogenesis
  • Simulation-guided navigation


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