Three-Dimensional Printing in Neurosurgery Residency Training: A Systematic Review of the Literature

Jonathan E. Blohm, Pedro Aguilar Salinas, Mauricio J. Avila, Samuel R. Barber, Martin E. Weinand, Travis M. Dumont

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Background: The use of three-dimensional (3D) printing in neurosurgery has become more prominent in recent years for surgical training, preoperative planning, and patient education. Several smaller studies are available using 3D printing; however, there is a lack of a concise review. This article provides a systematic review of 3D models in use by neurosurgical residents, with emphasis on training, learning, and simulation. Methods: A structured literature search of PubMed and Embase was conducted using PRISMA guidelines to identify publications specific to 3D models trialed on neurosurgical residents. Criteria for eligibility included articles discussing only neurosurgery, 3D models in neurosurgery, and models specifically tested or trialed on residents. Results: Overall, 40 articles were identified that met inclusion criteria. These studies encompassed different neurosurgical areas including aneurysm, spine, craniosynostosis, transsphenoidal, craniotomy, skull base, and tumor. Most articles were related to brain surgery. Of these studies, vascular surgery had the highest overall, with 13 of 40 articles, which include aneurysm clipping and other neurovascular surgeries. Twenty-two articles discussed cranial plus tumor surgeries, which included skull base, craniotomy, craniosynostosis, and transsphenoidal. Five studies were specific to spine surgery. Subjective outcome measures of neurosurgical residents were most commonly implemented, of which results were almost unanimously positive. Conclusions: 3D printing technology is rapidly expanding in health care and neurosurgery in particular. The technology is quickly improving, and several studies have shown the effectiveness of 3D printing for neurosurgical residency education and training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-122
Number of pages12
JournalWorld neurosurgery
StatePublished - May 2022


  • 3D printing
  • Graduate medical education
  • Neurosurgery
  • Residency education
  • Simulation
  • Training

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


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