BackgroundThe purpose of this study was to design a customized fixation plate for mandibular angle fracture using topological optimization based on the biomechanical properties of the two conventional fixation systems, and compare the results of stress, strain and displacement distributions calculated by finite element analysis (FEA).MethodsA three-dimensional (3D) virtual mandible was reconstructed from CT images with a mimic angle fracture and a 1 mm gap between two bone segments, and then a FEA model, including volume mesh with inhomogeneous bone material properties, three loading conditions and constraints (muscles and condyles), was created to design a customized plate using topological optimization method, then the shape of the plate was referenced from the stress concentrated area on an initial part created from thickened bone surface for optimal calculation, and then the plate was formulated as “V” pattern according to dimensions of standard mini-plate finally. To compare the biomechanical behavior of the “V” plate and other conventional mini-plates for angle fracture fixation, two conventional fixation systems were used: type A, one standard mini-plate, and type B, two standard mini-plates, and the stress, strain and displacement distributions within the three fixation systems were compared and discussed.ResultsThe stress, strain and displacement distributions to the angle fractured mandible with three different fixation modalities were collected, respectively, and the maximum stress for each model emerged at the mandibular ramus or screw holes. Under the same loading conditions, the maximum stress on the customized fixation system decreased 74.3, 75.6 and 70.6% compared to type A, and 34.9, 34.1, and 39.6% compared to type B. All maximum von Mises stresses of mandible were well below the allowable stress of human bone, as well as maximum principal strain. And the displacement diagram of bony segments indicated the effect of treatment with different fixation systems.ConclusionsThe customized fixation system with topological optimized structure has good biomechanical behavior for mandibular angle fracture because the stress, strain and displacement within the plate could be reduced significantly comparing to conventional “one mini-plate” or “two mini-plates” systems. The design methodology for customized fixation system could be used for other fractures in mandible or other bones to acquire better mechanical behavior of the system and improve stable environment for bone healing. And together with SLM, the customized plate with optimal structure could be designed and fabricated rapidly to satisfy the urgent time requirements for treatment.