Use of 3D printed models in medical education: A randomized control trial comparing 3D prints versus cadaveric materials for learning external cardiac anatomy

Kah Heng Alexander Lim, Zhou Y Loo, Stephen J Goldie, Justin W Adams, Paul G McMenamin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

127 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Three-dimensional (3D) printing is an emerging technology capable of readily producing accurate anatomical models, however, evidence for the use of 3D prints in medical education remains limited. A study was performed to assess their effectiveness against cadaveric materials for learning external cardiac anatomy. A double blind randomized controlled trial was undertaken on undergraduate medical students without prior formal cardiac anatomy teaching. Following a pre-test examining baseline external cardiac anatomy knowledge, participants were randomly assigned to three groups who underwent self-directed learning sessions using either cadaveric materials, 3D prints, or a combination of cadaveric materials/3D prints (combined materials). Participants were then subjected to a post-test written by a third party. Fifty-two participants completed the trial; 18 using cadaveric materials, 16 using 3D models, and 18 using combined materials. Age and time since completion of high school were equally distributed between groups. Pre-test scores were not significantly different (P = 0.231), however, post-test scores were significantly higher for 3D prints group compared to the cadaveric materials or combined materials groups (mean of 60.83 vs. 44.81 and 44.62 , P = 0.010, adjusted P = 0.012). A significant improvement in test scores was detected for the 3D prints group (P = 0.003) but not for the other two groups. The finding of this pilot study suggests that use of 3D prints do not disadvantage students relative to cadaveric materials; maximally, results suggest that 3D may confer certain benefits to anatomy learning and supports their use and ongoing evaluation as supplements to cadaver-based curriculums. Anat Sci Educ. (c) 2015 American Association of Anatomists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)213-221
Number of pages9
JournalAnatomical Sciences Education
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

Keywords

  • 3D printing
  • Additive manufacturing
  • Anatomical models
  • Cadavers
  • Gross anatomy education
  • Human anatomy
  • image processing
  • medical education
  • rapid prototyping

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