The authors have evaluated two types of practical maxillofacial model systems useful to the head and neck surgeon: 1. plastic mandibular model generated by three-dimensional computerized tomography (CT) reconstruction, and 2. dental impression model of the maxilla. The first model is expensive and technology intensive; the second is simple but limited. Both three-dimensional models offer several advantages: 1. they provide segmental mandibular relationships that are not known because of oncologic restrictions or previous surgery; 2. they allow pre-operative reconstructive planning including prosthesis fabrication and visualization of tumor extent not obvious by two dimensional imaging; and 3. they provide a permanent record for future needs or reconstructions. The disadvantages include cost, time, and possible inaccuracies secondary to image artifacts. We find both models to be of significant practical value in selected head and neck tumor patients.
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