Fabrication and characterization of 3D-printed elastic auricular scaffolds: A pilot study

Ha Yeong Kim, Soo Yeon Jung, Sang Jin Lee, Hyun Jung Lee, Minh Dung Truong, Han Su Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective: Aesthetic reconstruction of the external ear is challenging due to the complex anatomical shape of the auricle. Recently, artificial scaffolds such as Medpor (Stryker, Kalamasoo, MI, USA) have become widely used in ear reconstruction. However, the Medpor scaffold is stiffer than the natural ear, which may lead to discomfort, and moreover has uniform design for every patient. In this study, we investigated whether three-dimensional (3D)-printed artificial polyurethane (PU) scaffolds are suitable for auricular reconstruction. Methods: PU scaffolds were fabricated using 3D printing according to a design derived from a digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) image of the human auricle. The microstructure of the scaffolds was observed using scanning electron microscopy, and the porosity was examined. Cell proliferation on the scaffolds was assessed in vitro using tonsil-derived mesenchymal stem cells to evaluate the biocompatibility of the scaffolds. The scaffolds were implanted in C57BL/6 mice, and histological analysis was performed. Results: The structural study revealed that the 3D-printed porous PU scaffolds have rectangular microstructure with regular pitch and line, as well as high porosity (56.46% ± 10.22%) with a pore diameter of 200 µm. The mechanical properties of the 3D-printed PU scaffolds were similar to those of the human auricle cartilage. Cell proliferation on the PU scaffolds was greater than that on Medpor scaffolds. Histological evaluation demonstrated that the porous parts of the PU scaffolds became filled with collagen and vascular tissue. Conclusion: Elastic, porous PU scaffolds can be obtained using 3D printing, have biomechanical properties similar to those of the natural ear, and are suitable for use in auricular reconstruction. Level of Evidence: NA Laryngoscope, 129:351–357, 2019.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-357
Number of pages7
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by a grant from the Korea Health Technology R&D Project through the Korea Health Industry Development Institute, funded by the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Republic of Korea (HI16C-2207-020017); and by the Basic Science Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (NRF-2015R1D1A1A09058485). The authors have no other funding, financial relationships, or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The American Laryngological, Rhinological and Otological Society, Inc.


  • 3D printing
  • auricle reconstruction
  • polyurethane
  • porous scaffold


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