3D printing and urology: Review of the clinical applications

Keywords: kidney, urology, nephrology, 3D printing, education, surgery, anatomic models.


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a process that translates a 3D virtual model into its physical 3D replica. In medicine, Neurosurgery, Orthopedics and Maxillo-facial surgery were the first specialties to successfully incorporate this technology in their clinical routine, as an aid to surgical interventions.

The study aimed to provide a clear overview of the potential areas of applications of 3D printing (3DP) for management of renal diseases, based on a review of the literature.

Method. We carried out a review of the literature according to PRISMA recommendations. We searched three databases (Medline, Scopus and Cochrane) with two specific queries: one using MeSH-terms and the second one based on free terms, all terms were related to nephrology and three-dimensional printing technology.

Results. 3D-printed models were mostly employed for the management of renal tumors and lithiasis. They provided enhanced visualization of structures and the possibility to perform procedures rehearsals which seemed to improve surgical procedures. Models were also reported to positively impact patients’ understanding of their condition and the interventions. Trainees and experienced urologists also benefited from the supportive role of 3D-printed models and reported improved confidence and efficiency. Rare reports discussed their use for kidney transplantation, ureteropelvic junction obstruction syndrome treatment, nuclear medicine or cultural issues. Due to a meager data amount and heterogeneity of studies, no advanced statistical analysis was possible.

Conclusion. 3D-printed models of renal anatomical structures are feasible and are valuable tools to support renal disease management, and for educational purposes.


Download data is not yet available.


Manning TG, O'Brien JS, Christidis D, Perera M, Coles-Black J, Chuen J, Bolton DM, Lawrentschuk N. Three dimensional models in uro-oncology: a future built with additive fabrication. World J Urol. 2018;36(4):557-563. doi: 10.1007/s00345-018-2201-2.

Marro A, Bandukwala T, Mak W. Three-Dimensional Printing and Medical Imaging: A Review of the Methods and Applications. Curr Probl Diagn Radiol. 2016;45(1):2-9. doi:10.1067/j.cpradiol.2015.07.009

Wake N, Chandarana H, Huang WC, Taneja SS, Rosenkrantz AB. Application of anatomically accurate, patient-specific 3D printed models from MRI data in urological oncology. Clin Radiol. 2016;71(6):610-614. doi:10.1016/j.crad.2016.02.012.

Colaco M, Igel DA, Atala A. The potential of 3D printing in urological research and patient care. Nature Reviews Urology. 2018;15(4):213-21. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2018.6

Li C, Cheung TF, Fan VC, Sin KM, Wong CW, Leung GK. Applications of Three-Dimensional Printing in Surgery. Surg Innov. 2017;24(1):82-88. doi:10.1177/1553350616681889

Kim GB, Lee S, Kim H, Yang DH, Kim YH, Kyung YS, et al. Three-Dimensional Printing: Basic Principles and Applications in Medicine and Radiology. Korean journal of radiology.17(2):182-97. doi: 10.3348/kjr.2016.17.2.182

Özgür BC, Ayyıldız A. 3D printing in urology: Is it really promising? Turkish Journal of Urology. 2018;44(1):6-9. doi: 10.5152/tud.2018.20856

Powers MK, Lee BR, Silberstein J. Three-dimensional printing of surgical anatomy. Current Opinion in Urology. 2016;26(3):283-8. doi: 10.1097/MOU.0000000000000274

Youssef RF, Spradling K, Yoon R, et al. Applications of three-dimensional printing technology in urological practice. BJU Int. 2015;116(5):697-702. doi:10.1111/bju.13183

Westerman ME, Matsumoto JM, Morris JM, Leibovich BC. Three-dimensional Printing for Renal Cancer and Surgical Planning. European Urology Focus. 2016;2(6):574-6. doi: 10.1016/j.euf.2016.12.009

Ballard DH, Trace AP, Ali S, Hodgdon T, Zygmont ME, DeBenedectis CM, et al. Clinical Applications of 3D Printing: Primer for Radiologists. Academic Radiology. 2018;25(1):52-65. doi: 10.1016/j.acra.2017.08.004

Higgins JPT GSe. Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions Version 5.1.0 [updated March 2011]. The Cochrane Collaboration, 2011. Available from https://handbook-5-1.cochrane.org.

Dissemination. CfRa. Systematic reviews: CRD's guidance for undertaking reviews in health care. Centre for Reviews and Dissemination; Layerthorpe, York, UK: 2009. 978-1-900640-47-3. http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/crd/pdf/Systematic_Reviews.pdf.

Moher D, Liberati A, Tetzlaff J, Altman DG; PRISMA Group. Preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses: the PRISMA statement. PLoS Med. 2009;6(7):e1000097. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000097

von Rundstedt FC, Scovell JM, Agrawal S, Zaneveld J, Link RE. Utility of patient-specific silicone renal models for planning and rehearsal of complex tumour resections prior to robot-assisted laparoscopic partial nephrectomy. BJU Int. 2017;119(4):598-604. doi:10.1111/bju.13712

Weng JY, Wang CC, Chen PJ, Lim SW, Kuo JR. The Application of a Three-Dimensional Printed Product to Fill the Space After Organ Removal. World Neurosurg. 2017;107:1045.e17-1045.e19. doi:10.1016/j.wneu.2017.07.149

Ghazi A, Campbell T, Melnyk R, Feng C, Andrusco A, Stone J, Erturk E. Validation of a Full-Immersion Simulation Platform for Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy Using Three-Dimensional Printing Technology. J Endourol. 2017 Dec;31(12):1314-1320. doi: 10.1089/end.2017.0366

Cheung CL, Looi T, Lendvay TS, Drake JM, Farhat WA. Use of 3-dimensional printing technology and silicone modeling in surgical simulation: Development and face validation in pediatric laparoscopic pyeloplasty. Journal of Surgical Education. 2014;71(5):762-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2014.03.001

Zhang Y, Ge HW, Li NC, Yu CF, Guo HF, Jin SH, et al. Evaluation of three-dimensional printing for laparoscopic partial nephrectomy of renal tumors: a preliminary report. World Journal of Urology. 2016;34(4):533-7. doi: 10.1007/s00345-015-1530-7

Libby RS, Silberstein JL. Physical Model of Clear-Cell Renal Carcinoma With Inferior Vena Cava Extension Created From a 3-Dimensional Printer to Aid in Surgical Resection: A Case Report. Clin Genitourin Cancer. 2017;15(5):e867-e869. doi:10.1016/j.clgc.2017.04.025

Marconi S, Pugliese L, Botti M, Peri A, Cavazzi E, Latteri S, et al. Value of 3D printing for the comprehension of surgical anatomy. Surgical Endoscopy and Other Interventional Techniques. 2017;31(10):4102-10.

Golab A, Slojewski M, Brykczynski M, Lukowiak M, Boehlke M, Matias D, et al. Three-Dimensional Printing as an Interdisciplinary Communication Tool: Preparing for Removal of a Giant Renal Tumor and Atrium Neoplastic Mass. The heart surgery forum. 2016;19(4):E185-E6. doi: 10.1532/hsf.1500

Dullius M, Fonseca M, Botelho M, Cunha C, Souza D, editors. Three new renal simulators for use in nuclear medicine. EPJ Web of Conferences. 2014;66: 11010. doi: 10.1051/epjconf/20146611010

Gershman B, Psutka SP, Matsumoto JM, King BF, Kawashima A, Morris JM, et al. Use of Personalized Printed 3-Dimensional Kidney Models for Simulation before Nephron Sparing Surgery: Methodology and Examples from a Case Series. Urology Practice. 2016;3(2):124-33. doi: 10.1016/j.urpr.2015.05.008

Wake N, Rude T, Kang SK, Stifelman MD, Borin JF, Sodickson DK, et al. 3D printed renal cancer models derived from MRI data: application in pre-surgical planning. Abdominal Radiology. 2017;42(5):1501-9. doi: 10.1007/s00261-016-1022-2

Christiansen AR, Shorti RM, Smith CD, Prows WC, Bishoff JT. Intraoperative utilization of advanced imaging modalities in a complex kidney stone case: a pilot case study. World Journal of Urology. 2018;36(5):733-43. doi: 10.1007/s00345-018-2260-4

Sampogna G, Pugliese R, Elli M, Vanzulli A, Forgione A. Routine clinical application of virtual reality in abdominal surgery. Minimally Invasive Therapy and Allied Technologies. 2017;26(3):135-43. doi: 10.1080/13645706.2016.1275016

Komai Y, Sugimoto M, Gotohda N, Matsubara N, Kobayashi T, Sakai Y, et al. Patient-specific 3-dimensional Printed Kidney Designed for 4D Surgical Navigation: A Novel Aid to Facilitate Minimally Invasive Off-clamp Partial Nephrectomy in Complex Tumor Cases. Urology. 2016;91:226-32. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2015.11.060

Kusaka M, Sugimoto M, Fukami N, Sasaki H, Takenaka M, Anraku T, et al. Initial experience with a tailor-made simulation and navigation program using a 3-D printer model of kidney transplantation surgery. Transplantation Proceedings. 2015;47(3):596-9. doi: 10.1016/j.transproceed.2014.12.045

Turney BW. A new model with an anatomically accurate human renal collecting system for training in fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous nephrolithotomy access. Journal of Endourology. 2014;28(3):360-3. doi: 10.1089/end.2013.0616

Golab A, Smektala T, Kaczmarek K, Stamirowski R, Hrab M, Slojewski M. Laparoscopic Partial Nephrectomy Supported by Training Involving Personalized Silicone Replica Poured in Three-Dimensional Printed Casting Mold. Journal of Laparoendoscopic and Advanced Surgical Techniques. 2017;27(4):420-2. doi: 10.1089/lap.2016.0596

Golab A, Smektala T, Krolikowski M, Slojewski M. Percutaneous Nephrolithotomy Using an Individual 3-Dimensionally Printed Surgical Guide. Urologia Internationalis. 2016. doi: 10.1159/000446291

Bernhard JC, Isotani S, Matsugasumi T, Duddalwar V, Hung AJ, Suer E, et al. Personalized 3D printed model of kidney and tumor anatomy: a useful tool for patient education. World Journal of Urology. 2016;34(3):337-45. doi: 10.1007/s00345-015-1632-2

Maddox MM, Feibus A, Liu J, Wang J, Thomas R, Silberstein JL. 3D-printed soft-tissue physical models of renal malignancies for individualized surgical simulation: a feasibility study. Journal of Robotic Surgery. 2018;12(1):27-33. doi: 10.1007/s11701-017-0680-6

Knoedler M, Feibus AH, Lange A, Maddox MM, Ledet E, Thomas R, et al. Individualized physical 3-dimensional kidney tumor models constructed from 3-dimensional printers result in improved trainee anatomic understanding. Urology. 2015;85(6):1257-61. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2015.02.053

Atalay HA, Canat HL, Ülker V, Alkan I, Özkuvanci Ü, Altunrende F. Impact of personalized three-dimensional (3D) printed pelvicalyceal system models on patient information in percutaneous nephrolithotripsy surgery: A pilot study. International Braz J Urol. 2017;43(3):470-5. doi: 10.1590/S1677-5538.IBJU.2016.0441

Porpiglia F, Bertolo R, Checcucci E, Amparore D, Autorino R, Dasgupta P, et al. Development and validation of 3D printed virtual models for robot-assisted radical prostatectomy and partial nephrectomy: urologists’ and patients’ perception. World Journal of Urology. 2018;36(2):201-7. doi: 10.1007/s00345-017-2126-1

Silberstein JL, Maddox MM, Dorsey P, Feibus A, Thomas R, Lee BR. Physical models of renal malignancies using standard cross-sectional imaging and 3-dimensional printers: A pilot study. Urology. 2014;84(2):268-72. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2014.03.042

Atalay HA, Ülker V, Alkan U, Canat HL, Özkuvancl U, Altunrende F. Impact of Three-Dimensional Printed Pelvicaliceal System Models on Residents' Understanding of Pelvicaliceal System Anatomy before Percutaneous Nephrolithotripsy Surgery: A Pilot Study. Journal of Endourology. 2016;30(10):1132-7. doi: 10.1089/end.2016.0307

Girón-Vallejo Ó, García-Calderón D, Ruiz-Pruneda R, Cabello-Laureano R, Doménech-Abellán E, Fuster-Soler JL, et al. Three-dimensional printed model of bilateral Wilms tumor: A useful tool for planning nephron sparing surgery. Pediatric Blood and Cancer. 2018;65(4):PDF. doi: 10.1002/pbc.26894

Sweet RM. The CREST Simulation Development Process: Training the Next Generation. J Endourol. 2017;31(S1):S69-S75. doi:10.1089/end.2016.0613

Abstract views: 91
PDF Downloads: 63
How to Cite
Wendo, K., & Olszewski, R. (2020). 3D printing and urology: Review of the clinical applications. Ukrainian Journal of Nephrology and Dialysis, (3(67), 80-93. https://doi.org/10.31450/ukrjnd.3(67).2020.11