Three-dimensional printed upper-limb prostheses lack randomised controlled trials: A systematic review

Laura E. Diment, Mark S. Thompson, Jeroen H.M. Bergmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Three-dimensional printing provides an exciting opportunity to customise upper-limb prostheses. Objective: This review summarises the research that assesses the efficacy and effectiveness of three-dimensional printed upper-limb prostheses. Study design: Systematic review. Methods: PubMed, Web of Science and OVID were systematically searched for studies that reported human trials of three-dimensional printed upper-limb prostheses. The studies matching the language, peer-review and relevance criteria were ranked by level of evidence and critically appraised using the Downs and Black Quality Index. Results: After removing duplicates, 321 records were identified. Eight papers met the inclusion criteria. No studies used controls; five were case studies and three were small case-series studies. All studies showed promising results, but none demonstrated external validity, avoidance of bias or statistically significant improvements over conventional prostheses. The studies demonstrated proof-of-concept rather than assessing efficacy, and the devices were designed to prioritise reduction of manufacturing costs, not customisability for comfort and function. Conclusion: The potential of three-dimensional printing for individual customisation has yet to be fully realised, and the efficacy and effectiveness to be rigorously assessed. Until randomised controlled trials with follow-up are performed, the comfort, functionality, durability and long-term effects on quality of life remain unknown. Clinical relevance: Initial studies suggest that three-dimensional printing shows promise for customising low-cost upper-limb prosthetics. However, the efficacy and effectiveness of these devices have yet to be rigorously assessed. Until randomised controlled trials with follow-up are performed, the comfort, functionality, durability and long-term effects on patient quality of life remain unknown.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-13
Number of pages7
JournalProsthetics and Orthotics International
Volume42
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • children’s prosthetics
  • Computer-aided design–computer-aided manufacturing
  • evaluation studies
  • prosthetic design
  • rapid prototyping
  • study design
  • upper-limb prosthetics

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