3D Printers

French Hospital Uses Multi-Colored 3D Kidney Prints to Help with Cancer Surgery

One of the most innovative ways that 3D printing technology has been used in the medical field thus far is surgery preparation, which has become much easier to plan thanks to personalized 3D models of certain inner workings of the human body. Utilizing a Stratasys Objet500 Connex3, the Department of Urology and Kidney Transplantation at the University Hospital (CHU) de Bordeaux, which is located in France, was able to print out multi-materialized and specifically colored kidney models. According to CHU, they are the first hospital in France to utilize Stratasys’ 3D printing technology to plan for intricate tumor removals within the kidney.

Dr Bernhard with 3D printed kidney model
Dr Bernhard with 3D printed kidney model

“Having a 3D printed model comprising the patient’s kidney tumor, main arteries and vessels – each in a different color – provides an accurate picture of what we will see during operations,” says Dr Jean-Christophe Bernhard, a CHU surgeon. “Importantly, the ability to visualize the specific location of a tumor in relation to these other elements, all in three dimensions, greatly facilitates our task and is not something that is easily achievable from a 2D scan.”

By planning on an accurate kidney model, detailed down to the very last artery and blood vessel, surgeons at CHU are able to practice these complex tumor removals to ensure that no damage is done to this delicate human organ. CHU de Bordeaux is 3D printing these kidney models in three Stratasys Polyjet materials, including a transparent VeroClear to represent the volume of the kidney, red to represent the arteries, and yellow for the kidney’s excretory tract. The model tumor is added on the fly by mixing the yellow and red materials into orange, thanks to the multi-material capabilities of the Objet500 Connex3 3D printer. These model kidneys are not only being utilized for surgical preparation, they are also being used by CHU de Bordeaux for educational purposes and even as a tool to comfort patients undergoing surgery.


“Describing kidney tumor removal with 2D scan or a diagram will invariably leave most patients somewhat bewildered,” Bernhard explained. “Presenting them with a 3D printed model that clearly shows the tumor puts them at ease and enables the patient to grasp exactly what we’re going to do.”

Thanks to 3D printing technology, both the surgeons and patients of CHU de Bordeaux can better comprehend the complex kidney surgery at hand. Stratasys continues to act as one of the leaders for 3D printed medical-grade organ models, while this prestigious French hospital is showcasing the importance that these 3D printed models potentially hold for both surgery preparation and patient comprehension alike.