Virtual, or computer-aided, surgery is a process that integrates computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) into surgical treatment planning by providing a means to (1) visualize and analyze 3-dimensional (3D) images of soft tissue and skeletal anatomy, (2) perform virtual manipulations (surgery) to idealize skeletal relationships or plan soft or hard tissue operations, and (3) transfer the virtual plan to patients at the time of surgery. The conventional computed tomography (CT) scan is imported into a proprietary software program, which allows 3D analysis of a defect or deformity. This abnormal region can then be altered by mirror imaging, segmentation, and insertion to create idealized skeletal proportions. Using a CAD/CAM process, a planning model, occlusal stent, cutting guide, or custom implant can be constructed based on the idealized virtual image, which is then translated to the patients. Computer-assisted surgery is particularly useful for achieving optimal functional and esthetic results in patients with complex craniomaxillofacial deformities.
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Funding support: The authors have no financial disclosures to declare.
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