Virtual surgical planning improves surgical accuracy and predictability in oral and facial surgery

Clinical Assistant Professor Leonardo Saigo, deputy head and consultant at the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, presenting his lecture on Orthognathic Surgery Digital Workflow: From Virtualisation to Realisation

Virtual surgical planning (VSP), an innovative advancement in surgical technology has greatly improved surgical accuracy and predictability for oral and maxillofacial surgery. With VSP, clinicians can now simulate their surgical plan before performing it on patients in the operating theatres. The computer software, using artificial intelligence, is able to predict the post-surgical outcome of the patient’s face and in turn allows patients to better understand the surgeries they are undertaking.

At National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), the use of VSP has greatly benefited oral and maxillofacial surgery (OMS) specifically in the areas of orthognathic, dental implant and oral cancer surgery.

Surgeons can now simulate complex orthognathic surgeries ranging from long and short lower jaws to open bite and asymmetrical jaws as well as improve the quality of dental implant surgery by planning the most optimal position and angulation of the dental implants virtually before translating them into the operating theatre.

Oral cancer patients may require radical removal of part of the jaw bones infiltrated by cancer cells. This often creates large defects and presents surgeons with complex re-construction surgeries. With VSP, the pre-operative visualisation allows better planning on the reconstruction of the jaw bone thus improving the surgical outcomes for cancer patients and restoring their chewing function and aesthetics.

Clinical Assistant Professor Leonardo Saigo, deputy head and consultant at the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, NDCS, said: “VSP opens up a whole new dimension in the planning and execution of surgeries today. The surgical outcomes become more predictable, data collection is more homogenous and the training of young surgeons can be better facilitated.”

Associate Professor Arjun Krishnadas from the Department of Craniomaxillofacial Surgery, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi, India, added: “The efficiency of VSP to conventional model surgery can return hours to a surgeon’s day through a more streamlined work-up and smoother intraoperative experience.”

“VSP is also changing the way functional and aesthetic reconstruction caused by trauma, congenital anomaly, benign or malignant tumour are done. South Korea’s patient-customised 3D printing titanium, bio-ceramic and PCL-TCP (polycaprolactone-tricalcium phosphate) implants done using digital simulation technology will serve to overcome the many limitations from the conventional transplantation method from other parts of the body,” said Professor Ui-Lyong Lee, from the Department of Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Chung-Ang University Hospital, Seoul, South Korea.

The National Dental Centre Singapore (NDCS), organised its first regional virtual symposium titled “Virtual Surgical Planning in Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery” with speakers from Singapore, India and South Korea on 25 November 2021, aiming to expand the collective knowledge of oral maxillofacial surgeons and further advance the field of dentistry and oral maxillofacial surgery in the region.