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DICOM to STL Files and Other Medical Scans Uploaded to embodi3D®

Angel Sosa


DICOM to STL Files and Other Medical Scans Uploaded to embodi3D®

3D printing is a technology that is constantly evolving, especially among medical professionals who are converting medical CT scans into 3D-printed anatomical models. Patient-specific models with anatomical fidelity created from imaging dataset have the potential to significantly improve the knowledge and skills of a new generation of surgeons. In terms of research and education, 3D-printed anatomical models have proven to be a major benefit in helping students and researchers gain first-hand knowledge of specific conditions and the human anatomy. In a recent University of Pennsylvania research article ("From medical imaging data to 3D printed anatomical models") there merits of DICOM to STL conversions are highlighted and this is a medical technology that will continue to grow in the coming years. 


As a manufacturing process, 3D printing is well suited for the generation of biomedical phantoms, which is essentially a low-volume process for patient-specific models. The relatively high tooling costs for alternative processes—such as lost-wax investment casting—make 3D printing a cost-effective choice. This week we want to share the top ten downloads of medical scans. 


Graphic illustration highlighting DICOM to STL conversions on embodi3D.com.


3D prnting technology can be aligned with the predefined educational need, as listed below.


Teaching anatomy, patient education: To teach the anatomy and explain pathology, models constructed of hard materials are often sufficient. The low cost and most accessible method FDM is most certainly the best choice if there is no need for fine printing definition and if the size of the model is large, otherwise we would recommend SLA. Models obtained by SLA present more detail thus would be better for small printing models (eg, coronary arteries). However, in the case of the thoracic aortic model with root aneurysm we put the emphasis on the realism of the geometry by representing as much as details as possible which is why we needed to use one of the most accurate 3D printing method: PJ. It also allowed us to change easily the colours of the 3D printed model if desired.


Surgical planning and review of procedure: Surgical planning and review of procedure do not necessarily require materials to have the same mechanical properties of the biological tissues. Hard material model can be well representative of the anatomical structure and once again, FDM and SLA might be your best options.


Preprocedural planning: preprocedural planning models are more complicated to fabricate since they require materials mechanically representative to the biological tissues. Discussions on the matter are provided in the following section where all printing methods are eventually used.


To see more CT scans, check out the embodi3D® Medical CT Scan Files library. Remember: to get the most out of embodi3D® you need to register on the embodi3D® website. It's completely free and will take only a few minutes of your time. Plus, you will gain access to many of our cutting-edge conversion tools and algorithms!


1. A Whole-Body CT Scan in DICOM and NRRD File Formats

First place: A Ridiculously Easily Way to Convert CT Scans to 3D Printable Bone STL Models for Free in Minutes which allows you to follow along with the tutorial. Included is an anonymized chest abdomen pelvis CT in both DICOM and NRRD formats. Take a look to this CT model of whole body.




2. An Incredible CT Scan of an Open Bite

CT is indicated for implant site assessment in anatomically difficult cases or when extensive implant treatment is planned. In addition, bone quantity and quality, in the implantation area are evaluated in the CT scans. Classifications are based upon jaw shape (degree of resorption), bone quality (amount of compact bone) and bone density. Information about the location of vital structures, such as mandibular canal, mental foramen, incisive foramen, maxillary sinuses and nasal cavity can be evaluated.



3. Head and Neck CT Scan — Great Addition to our Top 10 Medical CT Scans!

A source Head and Neck CT scan in NRRD file format for the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA) Annual Meeting 2017 course on Open-Source and Freeware Medical 3D Printing, RCA12 and RCA21,  November 26 and 27, 2017. Be sure to view the full tutorial that uses this file here


https://meeting.rsna.org/program/index.cfm  Search for "3D Printing Hands-on with Open Source Software: Introduction (Hands-on)"


CT angiography of the cerebral arteries is a noninvasive technique allows visualization of the internal and external carotid arteries and vertebral arteries and can include just the intracranial compartment or also extend down to the arch of the aorta. By using multidetector CT (MDCT) after intravenous contrast administration, the vessels become enhanced with contrast allow them to be differentiated from adjacent tissues. Following image acquisition, post-processing techniques are applied for better 3D visualization of the vessels and their abnormalities.




4. A Contrast-Enhanced CT Scan Showing a Chest Wall Tumor


Tumors of the chest wall are varied, some of which are found most often in this region. They can be divided into benign and malignant tumors and into those which arise in the ribcage and those of soft tissue density.


- Benign: soft tissue , haemangioma: common, lymphangioma: common, lipoma: chest wall lipoma, schwannoma, neurofibroma, ganglioneuroma

paraganglioma, skeletal (ribcage), fibrous dysplasia: common, aneurysmal bone cyst (ABC): common, giant cell tumour (GCT), ossifying fibromyxoid tumour, chondromyxoid fibroma, osteochondroma, mesenchymal hamartoma of chest wall: sometimes even considered a developmental anomaly


- Malignant: The most common malignant lesions are metastases. Lesions include: rhabdomyosarcoma: common, Ewing sarcoma: including Askin tumour (or pPNET), ganglioneuroblastoma, neuroblastoma, angiosarcoma, leiomyosarcoma, malignant fibrous histiocytoma (MFH), malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour, dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, skeletal (ribcage), chest wall metastases: common, myeloma, chondrosarcoma





5. CT Scan of the Brain and Structures (Without Contrast)

This upload shows a CT scan of the human brain and related structures. This scan has not been contrast-enhanced.


window: W:2800 L:600

Review the bones. This should always be performed, even when a bony algorithm hasn't been provided or where slice thickness is suboptimal. Note that if there is a history of trauma, then dedicated thin bony images are required to detect undisplaced fractures. 

Review the skull vault for any fractures or destructive lesions. Spend some time checking the base of the skull as the increased complexity of this region can make identification of abnormalities more difficult. Don't forget to ensure that both TMJs are normally aligned. 

Review the paranasal sinuses for evidence of fluid that may represent acute sinusitis or, in the correct setting, fractures. 




6. Whole-Body NRRD File Showing the Chest, Abdomen, and Pelvis 

A whole body NRRD file converted from CT Scan for Medical 3D Printing includes the chest, abdomen and pelvis. It includes a skin, bone and muscle 3D model.






7. Jawbone Implant as Shown in a 3D Model

A 3D model of mandible implant with exquisite detail from a CT scan from planning. Current 3D-printers are easy to use and represent a promising solution for medical prototyping. The 3D printing will quickly become undeniable because of its advantages: information sharing, simulation, surgical guides, pedagogy. They allow for better preoperative planning and training for the procedures and for pre-shaping of plates. Occlusal splints and surgical guides are intended for the smooth transfer of planning to the operating room. 




8. The Whole Body of a Female — Available in a 3D Printer-Ready Format

A 3D model of female's whole body (with bone, muscle and skin 3D printing)





9. Head and Neck Scan from the Cancer Imaging Archives

62yo male skull from the Head-Neck Cetuximab collection of The Cancer Imaging Archives.




10. Contrast-Enhanced CT Scan of the Skull and Brain

A brain CT scan with contrast showing all the structures of the skull and brain.






1. Lekholm U, Zarb G. Patient selection and preparation. In: Brånemark P-I, Zarb G, Albrektsson T, editors. Tissue-integrated prostheses. Osseointegration in clinical dentistry. Chicago: Quintessence; 1985 p. 199 – 209.


2. Wood MR, Vermilyea SG. A review of selected dental literature on evidence-based treatment planning for dental implants: report of the Committee on Research in Fixed Prosthodontics of the Academy of Fixed Prosthodontics. J Prosthet Dent 2004; 92: 447 – 62.


3. Lindh C, Petersson A, Klinge B. Measurements of distances related to the mandibular canal in radiographs. Clin Oral Impl Res 1995; 6: 96 – 103.


4. Garcia, J., Yang, Z., Mongrain, R., Leask, R. L., & Lachapelle, K. (2018). 3D printing materials and their use in medical education: a review of current technology and trends for the future. BMJ Simulation and Technology Enhanced Learning, 4(1), 27-40.








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