Three-Dimensional Printing and Medical Imaging: A Review of the Methods and Applications

Curr Probl Diagn Radiol. 2016 Jan-Feb;45(1):2-9. doi: 10.1067/j.cpradiol.2015.07.009. Epub 2015 Jul 21.


The purpose of this article is to review recent innovations on the process and application of 3-dimensional (3D) printed objects from medical imaging data. Data for 3D printed medical models can be obtained from computed tomography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound using the Data Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) software. The data images are processed using segmentation and mesh generation tools and converted to a standard tessellation language (STL) file for printing. 3D printing technologies include stereolithography, selective laser sintering, inkjet, and fused-deposition modeling . 3D printed models have been used for preoperative planning of complex surgeries, the creation of custom prosthesis, and in the education and training of physicians. The application of medical imaging and 3D printers has been successful in providing solutions to many complex medical problems. As technology advances, its applications continue to grow in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Diagnostic Imaging / methods*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional*
  • Radiology Information Systems
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Ultrasonography