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Ann Maxillofac Surg. 2015 Jan-Jun;5(1):4-13. doi: 10.4103/2231-0746.161044.

Biomimetic approaches to complex craniofacial defects.

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Department of Surgery, Section of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA.
Department of Orthopedic Surgery, University of Chicago Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA.


The primary goals of craniofacial reconstruction include the restoration of the form, function, and facial esthetics, and in the case of pediatric patients, respect for craniofacial growth. The surgeon, however, faces several challenges when attempting a reconstructive cranioplasty. For that reason, craniofacial defect repair often requires sophisticated treatment strategies and multidisciplinary input. In the ideal situation, autologous tissue similar in structure and function to that which is missing can be utilized for repair. In the context of the craniofacial skeleton, autologous cranial bone, or secondarily rib, iliac crest, or scapular bone, is most favorable. Often, this option is limited by the finite supply of available bone. Therefore, alternative strategies to repair craniofacial defects are necessary. In the field of regenerative medicine, tissue engineering has emerged as a promising concept, and several methods of bone engineering are currently under investigation. A growth factor-based approach utilizing bone morphogenetic proteins (BMPs) has demonstrated stimulatory effects on cranial bone and defect repair. When combined with cell-based and matrix-based models, regenerative goals can be optimized. This manuscript intends to review recent investigations of tissue engineering models used for the repair of craniofacial defects with a focus on the role of BMPs, scaffold materials, and novel cell lines. When sufficient autologous bone is not available, safe and effective strategies to engineer bone would allow the surgeon to meet the reconstructive goals of the craniofacial skeleton.


Biomimetic; bone morphogenetic protein; craniofacial defect repair; scaffold matrix; three-dimensional scaffold

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