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Partial nephrectomies to remove renal masses are kidney-sparing procedures that rely on anatomical comprehension. Prior research demonstrates complex and expensive 3D models (~$1000) increased surgeons’ confidence in selecting their operative plan. We aim to use simpler and cheaper 3D models to improve preoperative surgeon confidence and support operative management.


3D printed models (~$35) of the affected kidney, mass, and renal vasculature were created using preoperative CT or MRI imaging of 17 patients presenting for partial nephrectomies at Thomas Jefferson University (TJU) between July and December 2020. The models were created at TJU using Ultimaker technology.

Surgeons filled out three surveys assessing their surgical plan and confidence in the plan: before seeing the model, after seeing the model before surgery, and after surgery.

Patients with 3D modeling were crossmatched by demographics and operative technique with patients without 3D modeling who had partial nephrectomies between 2018 - 2019.

Results and Conclusions:

16 of 17 attendings completed the surveys. Surgeon confidence increased before (7.6) and after seeing the 3D model (7.9) on a 10-point scale (10=most confident). On postoperative surveys, attendings rated the models 8.3 out of 10 in their helpfulness to anatomical comprehension.

Patients with 3D modeling had slightly higher rates of selective renal artery clamping over complete vascular clamping when compared to crossmatched partial nephrectomies without 3D modeling.

Cost-effective 3D models can be helpful tools for surgeons to understand anatomical relationships and reduce complete vascular clamping that may be difficult with imaging alone. Other surgical fields may benefit from preoperative education through 3D modeling.