Using 3D-Printed Mesh-Like Brain Cortex with Deep Structures for Planning Intracranial EEG Electrode Placement


Surgical evaluation of medically refractory epilepsy frequently necessitates implantation of multiple intracranial electrodes for the identification of the seizure focus. Knowledge of the individual brain’s surface anatomy and deep structures is crucial for planning the electrode implantation. We present a novel method of 3D printing a brain that allows for the simulation of placement of all types of intracranial electrodes. We used a DICOM dataset of a T1-weighted 3D-FSPGR brain MRI from one subject. The segmentation tools of Materialise Mimics 21.0 were used to remove the osseous anatomy from brain parenchyma. Materialise 3-matic 13.0 was then utilized in order to transform the cortex of the segmented brain parenchyma into a mesh-like surface. Using 3-matic tools, the model was modified to incorporate deep brain structures and create an opening in the medial aspect. The final model was then 3D printed as a cerebral hemisphere with nylon material using selective laser sintering technology. The final model was light and durable and reflected accurate details of the surface anatomy and some deep structures. Additionally, standard surgical depth electrodes could be passed through the model to reach deep structures without damaging the model. This novel 3D-printed brain model provides a unique combination of visualizing both the surface anatomy and deep structures through the mesh-like surface while allowing repeated needle insertions. This relatively low-cost technique can be implemented for interdisciplinary preprocedural planning in patients requiring intracranial EEG monitoring and for any intervention that requires needle insertion into a solid organ with unique anatomy and internal targets.

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Computed tomography


Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine


Fused deposition modeling


Fast spoiled gradient echo


Multi Jet Fusion


Magnetic resonance imaging


Polylactic acid


Selective laser sintering


Standard tessellation language or stereolithography


Current procedural terminology


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The 3D model was purchased through dedicated departmental funds for 3D printing purposes in clinical, research, and educational endeavors at George Washington University Hospital, Department of Radiology.

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Correspondence to Ramin Javan.

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Maureen Schickel is an employee of Materialise. No conflict of interest for other co-authors.

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Javan, R., Schickel, M., Zhao, Y. et al. Using 3D-Printed Mesh-Like Brain Cortex with Deep Structures for Planning Intracranial EEG Electrode Placement. J Digit Imaging 33, 324–333 (2020).

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  • 3D printing
  • Deep electrode
  • Brain surface anatomy
  • Epilepsy
  • EEG