Black Bone MRI for Virtual Surgical Planning in Craniomaxillofacial Surgery

Krishna S. Vyas, Marissa A. Suchyta, Christopher H. Hunt, Waleed Gibreel, Samir Mardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Advances in computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing software have improved translational applications of virtual surgical planning (VSP) in craniomaxillofacial surgery, allowing for precise and accurate fabrication of cutting guides, stereolithographic models, and custom implants. High-resolution computed tomography (CT) imaging has traditionally been the gold standard imaging modality for VSP in craniomaxillofacial surgery but delivers ionizing radiation. Black bone magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) reduces the risks related to radiation exposure and has comparable functionality when compared with CT for VSP. Our group has studied the accuracy of utilizing black bone MRI in planning and executing several types of craniofacial surgeries, including cranial vault remodeling, maxillary advancement, and mandibular reconstruction using fibular bone. Here, we review clinical applications of black bone MRI pertaining to VSP and three-dimensional (3D)-printed guide creation for craniomaxillofacial surgery. Herein, we review the existing literature and our institutional experience comparing black bone MRI and CT in VSP-generated 3D model creation in cadaveric craniofacial surgeries including cranial vault reconstruction, maxillary advancement, and mandibular reconstruction with fibular free flap. Cadaver studies have demonstrated the ability to perform VSP and execute the procedure based on black bone MRI data and achieve outcomes similar to CT when performed for cranial vault reshaping, maxillary advancement, and mandibular reconstruction with free fibula. Limitations of the technology include increased time and costs of the MRI compared with CT and the possible need for general anesthesia or sedation in the pediatric population. VSP and 3D surgical guide creation can be performed using black bone MRI with comparable accuracy to high-resolution CT scans in a wide variety of craniofacial reconstructions. Successful segmentation, VSP, and 3D printing of accurate guides from black bone MRI demonstrate potential to change the preoperative planning standard of care. Black bone MRI also reduces exposure to ionizing radiation, which is of particular concern for the pediatric population or patients undergoing multiple scans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-198
Number of pages7
JournalSeminars in Plastic Surgery
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 7 2022


  • 3D printing
  • black bone MRI
  • computed tomography
  • craniofacial surgery
  • craniomaxillofacial surgery
  • facial reconstruction
  • radiation
  • virtual surgical planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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