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J Endourol. 2014 Mar;28(3):360-3. doi: 10.1089/end.2013.0616. Epub 2013 Dec 26.

A new model with an anatomically accurate human renal collecting system for training in fluoroscopy-guided percutaneous nephrolithotomy access.

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Department of Urology, Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences, Oxford University , Oxford, United Kingdom .



Obtaining renal access is one of the most important and complex steps in learning percutaneous nephrolithotomy (PCNL). Ideally, this skill should be practiced outside the operating room. There is a need for anatomically accurate and cheap models for simulated training. The objective was to develop a cost-effective, anatomically accurate, nonbiologic training model for simulated PCNL access under fluoroscopic guidance.


Collecting systems from routine computed tomography urograms were extracted and reformatted using specialized software. These images were printed in a water-soluble plastic on a three-dimensional (3D) printer to create biomodels. These models were embedded in silicone and then the models were dissolved in water to leave a hollow collecting system within a silicone model. These PCNL models were filled with contrast medium and sealed. A layer of dense foam acted as a spacer to replicate the tissues between skin and kidney.


3D printed models of human collecting systems are a useful adjunct in planning PCNL access. The PCNL access training model is relatively low cost and reproduces the anatomy of the renal collecting system faithfully. A range of models reflecting the variety and complexity of human collecting systems can be reproduced. The fluoroscopic triangulation process needed to target the calix of choice can be practiced successfully in this model.


This silicone PCNL training model accurately replicates the anatomic architecture and orientation of the human renal collecting system. It provides a safe, clean, and effective model for training in accurate fluoroscopy-guided PCNL access.

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