Advances in virtual surgical planning and three-dimensionally-printed guides have enabled increased precision in vascularized free fibula flap reconstruction of the mandible and valuable preoperative planning. However, virtual surgical planning currently requires high-resolution computed tomographic scans, exposing patients to ionizing radiation. The aim of this study was to determine whether black bone magnetic resonance imaging can be used for accurate surgical planning and three-dimensionally-printed guide creation, thus reducing patient radiation exposure. This study included 10 cadaver heads and 10 cadaver lower extremities. A mock fibula free flap for mandible reconstruction was performed. Five operations were planned with guides created using black bone magnetic resonance imaging, whereas the other five were planned and performed using guides created with computed tomographic scan data. All specimens underwent a postoperative computed tomographic scan, and three-dimensional reconstruction of scans was performed and surgical accuracy to the planned surgery was assessed. Guides created from black bone magnetic resonance imaging demonstrated high accuracy to the surgical plan. There was no statistically significant difference in postoperative deviation from the plan when black bone magnetic resonance imaging versus computed tomographic scanning was used for virtual surgical planning and guide creation. Both modalities led to a postoperative positive or negative deviation from the virtual plan within 0.8 mm. This study demonstrates that virtual surgical planning and three-dimensionally-printed guide creation for free fibula flaps for mandible reconstruction can be performed using black bone magnetic resonance imaging with comparable accuracy to computed tomographic scanning. This could reduce radiation exposure for patients and enable a more streamlined imaging process for head and neck cancer patients.
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