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Development and validation of 3D printed virtual models for robot-assisted radical prostatectomy and partial nephrectomy: urologists’ and patients’ perception

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To test the face and content validity of 3D virtual-rendered printed models used before robot-assisted prostate cancer and nephron-sparing surgery.


Patients who underwent live surgery during an international urological meeting organized in January 2017 were enrolled. Those with organ-confined prostate cancer underwent robot-assisted radical prostatectomy. Patients with a single renal tumor underwent minimally invasive nephron-sparing surgery. High-resolution (HR) imaging was obtained for all patients. Those with kidney tumors received contrast-enhanced CT scan with angiography; those with prostate cancer underwent mp-MRI. Images in DICOM format were processed by dedicated software. The first step was the rendering of a 3D virtual model. The models were then printed. They were presented during the live surgery of the urological meeting. All the participants and the operated patients were asked to fill a questionnaire about their opinion expressed in Likert scale (1–10) about the use and application of the 3D printed models.


18 patients were enrolled, including 8 undergoing robot-assisted radical prostatectomy and 10 undergoing minimally invasive partial nephrectomy. For each patient, a virtual 3D printed model was created. The attendants rated the utility of printed models in surgical planning, anatomical representation and the role of technology in surgical training as 8/10, 10/10 and 9/10, respectively. All patients reported favorable feedbacks (from 9 to 10/10) about the use of the technology during the case discussion with the surgeon.


In our experience, 3D printing technology has been perceived as a useful tool for the purpose of surgical planning, physician education/training and patient counseling. Further researches are expected to increase the level of evidence.

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The authors would like to thank the professional engineers who collaborated in this study and all the participants of the Techno-Urology Meeting who filled the questionnaire.

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Authors and Affiliations




Protocol/project development: FP, PW, EL and AT. Data collection or management: EC and DA. Data analysis: FP, CF, RB, DA and EC. Manuscript writing/editing: RB, RA, CF and PD.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Francesco Porpiglia.

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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Research involving human participants and/or animals

The study was in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study

Electronic supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 23 kb)

Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 23 kb)

Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 93 kb)

Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 14 kb)


Figure 1 Supplementary Material: a) Magnetic Resonance Imaging acquisition, segmentation, 3D virtual model reconstruction and 3D printing of the prostate with tumor and neuro-vascular bundles. b) Computed Tomography scan acquisition, segmentation, 3D virtual model reconstruction and 3D printing of the kidney with the tumor and the renal arterial vasculature. (JPEG 53 kb)

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Porpiglia, F., Bertolo, R., Checcucci, E. et al. Development and validation of 3D printed virtual models for robot-assisted radical prostatectomy and partial nephrectomy: urologists’ and patients’ perception. World J Urol 36, 201–207 (2018).

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