Medical 3D Printing for the Radiologist

Radiographics. Nov-Dec 2015;35(7):1965-88. doi: 10.1148/rg.2015140320.


While use of advanced visualization in radiology is instrumental in diagnosis and communication with referring clinicians, there is an unmet need to render Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) images as three-dimensional (3D) printed models capable of providing both tactile feedback and tangible depth information about anatomic and pathologic states. Three-dimensional printed models, already entrenched in the nonmedical sciences, are rapidly being embraced in medicine as well as in the lay community. Incorporating 3D printing from images generated and interpreted by radiologists presents particular challenges, including training, materials and equipment, and guidelines. The overall costs of a 3D printing laboratory must be balanced by the clinical benefits. It is expected that the number of 3D-printed models generated from DICOM images for planning interventions and fabricating implants will grow exponentially. Radiologists should at a minimum be familiar with 3D printing as it relates to their field, including types of 3D printing technologies and materials used to create 3D-printed anatomic models, published applications of models to date, and clinical benefits in radiology. Online supplemental material is available for this article.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Audiovisual Aids
  • Humans
  • Models, Anatomic*
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional* / economics
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional* / instrumentation
  • Printing, Three-Dimensional* / trends
  • Prosthesis Design
  • Radiology / methods*
  • Resins, Synthetic
  • Rheology
  • Software
  • Surgery, Computer-Assisted
  • Tissue Engineering / methods
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed


  • Resins, Synthetic