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Personalized 3D printed model of kidney and tumor anatomy: a useful tool for patient education



To assess the impact of 3D printed models of renal tumor on patient’s understanding of their conditions. Patient understanding of their medical condition and treatment satisfaction has gained increasing attention in medicine. Novel technologies such as additive manufacturing [also termed three-dimensional (3D) printing] may play a role in patient education.


A prospective pilot study was conducted, and seven patients with a primary diagnosis of kidney tumor who were being considered for partial nephrectomy were included after informed consent. All patients underwent four-phase multi-detector computerized tomography (MDCT) scanning from which renal volume data were extracted to create life-size patient-specific 3D printed models. Patient knowledge and understanding were evaluated before and after 3D model presentation. Patients’ satisfaction with their specific 3D printed model was also assessed through a visual scale.


After viewing their personal 3D kidney model, patients demonstrated an improvement in understanding of basic kidney physiology by 16.7 % (p = 0.018), kidney anatomy by 50 % (p = 0.026), tumor characteristics by 39.3 % (p = 0.068) and the planned surgical procedure by 44.6 % (p = 0.026).


Presented herein is the initial clinical experience with 3D printing to facilitate patient’s pre-surgical understanding of their kidney tumor and surgery.

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Fondation ARC pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (SAE20131200704) : Dr Jean-Christophe Bernhard; Association Française d'Urologie (AFU) (AFU-2013) : Dr Jean-Christophe Bernhard; The Glenn & Wendy Miller/Inderbir Gill Kidney Cancer Program : Inderbir S Gill.

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Correspondence to Jean-Christophe Bernhard.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical standard

The study was IRB approved. All patients received oral information about the objectives and methodology of the study, and informed written consent was obtained from all participants before inclusion. All CT images were anonymized before use for 3D modeling.


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Bernhard, JC., Isotani, S., Matsugasumi, T. et al. Personalized 3D printed model of kidney and tumor anatomy: a useful tool for patient education. World J Urol 34, 337–345 (2016).

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  • 3D printing
  • Renal cancer
  • Kidney tumors
  • Partial nephrectomy
  • Education