Use of Three-Dimensional Printed Brain Models During Deep Brain Stimulation Surgery Consultation for Patient Health Literacy: A Randomized Controlled Investigation

World Neurosurg. 2022 Jun;162:e526-e533. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2022.03.049. Epub 2022 Mar 17.


Background: Advanced therapies in neurosurgery, such as deep brain stimulation (DBS), would benefit from improved patient education materials. Three-dimensional (3D) printed anatomical models represent a recent development for improving patient education for neurosurgical procedures.

Methods: In this study, 40 patients undergoing DBS surgery consultation were randomly assigned to 1 of 2 groups: an experimental group, which received a demonstration of DBS therapeutic neuroanatomical targets in a 3D printed brain model plus standard patient education (PE), or a control group, which received standard PE alone.

Results: Patients in the DBS model plus PE group showed a significant increase in patient confidence and understanding of the brain structures targeted during a DBS procedure compared with patients in the PE-only group (P < 0.01). There was no difference in perceived risk, comfort, or anxiety related to the procedure.

Conclusions: In the first randomized controlled study to our knowledge of 3D printed models for DBS consultation, our results demonstrate that patients had improved understanding of their therapy with the models. However, the models alone did not affect risk evaluation or comfort with surgery. A 3D printed brain model may help improve patient understanding of DBS surgery.

Keywords: 3D model; DBS surgery; Patient education.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Brain
  • Deep Brain Stimulation* / methods
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Referral and Consultation