Challenges in creating dissectible anatomical 3D prints for surgical teaching

Ratheesraj Ratinam, Michelle Quayle, John Crock, Michelle Lazarus, Quentin Fogg, Paul McMenamin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

45 Citations (Scopus)


Three-dimensional (3D) printing, or additive manufacturing, is now a widely used tool in pre-operative planning, surgical teaching and simulator training. However, 3D printing technology that produces models with accurate haptic feedback, biomechanics and visuals for the training surgeon is not currently available. Challenges and opportunities in creating such surgical models will be discussed in this review paper. Surgery requires proper tissue handling as well as knowledge of relevant anatomy. To prepare doctors properly, training models need to take into account the biomechanical properties of the anatomical structures that will be manipulated in any given operation. This review summarises and evaluates the current biomechanical literature as it relates to human tissues and correlates the impact of this knowledge on developing high fidelity 3D printed surgical training models. We conclude that, currently, a printer technology has not yet been developed which can replicate many of the critical qualities of human tissue. Advances in 3D printing technology will be required to allow the printing of multi-material products to achieve the mechanical properties required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)419-437
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Anatomy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2019


  • additive manufacturing
  • biomechanical
  • multi-material
  • surgery
  • three-dimensional printing
  • training

Cite this