Engineered cartilage is a promising option for auricular reconstruction. We have previously demonstrated that a titanium wire framework within a composite collagen ear-shaped scaffold helped to maintain the gross dimensions of the engineered ear after implantation, resisting the deformation forces encountered during neocartilage maturation and wound healing. The ear geometry was redesigned to achieve a more accurate aesthetic result when implanted subcutaneously in a nude rat model. A non-invasive method was developed to assess size and shape changes of the engineered ear in three dimensions. Computer models of the titanium framework were obtained from CT scans before and after implantation. Several parameters were measured including the overall length, width and depth, the minimum intrahelical distance and overall curvature values for each beam section within the framework. Local curvature values were measured to gain understanding of the bending forces experienced by the framework structure in situ. Length and width changed by less than 2%, whereas the depth decreased by approximately 8% and the minimum intrahelical distance changed by approximately 12%. Overall curvature changes identified regions most susceptible to deformation. Eighty-nine per cent of local curvature measurements experienced a bending moment less than 50 µN-m owing to deformation forces during implantation. These quantitative shape analysis results have identified opportunities to improve shape fidelity of engineered ear constructs.
- Received May 7, 2013.
- Accepted July 10, 2013.
- © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.