Auricular malformations, which impose a significant social and psychological burden, are currently treated using ear prostheses, synthetic implants or autologous implants derived from rib cartilage. Advances in the field of regenerative medicine and biofabrication provide the possibility to engineer functional cartilage with intricate architectures and complex shapes using patient-derived or donor cells. However, the development of a successful auricular cartilage implant still faces a number of challenges. These challenges include the generation of a functional biochemical matrix, the fabrication of a customized anatomical shape, and maintenance of that shape. Biofabrication technologies may have the potential to overcome these challenges due to their ability to reproducibly deposit multiple materials in complex geometries in a highly controllable manner. This topical review summarizes this potential of biofabrication technologies for the generation of implants for auricular reconstruction. In particular, it aims to discuss how biofabrication technologies, although still in pre-clinical phase, could overcome the challenges of generating and maintaining the desired auricular shapes. Finally, remaining bottlenecks and future directions are discussed.
ASJC Scopus subject areas