Sreenivasulu M, Yeong W, Tan H, Tan G, Abrahams P, Zary N, Low‐Beer N, Ferenczi M. Evaluation by medical students of the educational value of multi‐material and multi‐colored three‐dimensional printed models of the upper limb for anatomical education . Anatomical Sience Education. 2017,11:54-64


For centuries, cadaveric material has been the cornerstone of anatomical education. For reasons of changes in curriculum emphasis, cost, availability, expertise, and ethical concerns, several medical schools have replaced wet cadaveric specimens with plastinated prosections, plastic models, imaging, and digital models. Discussions about the qualities and limitations of these alternative teaching resources are on‐going. We hypothesize that three‐dimensional printed (3DP) models can replace or indeed enhance existing resources for anatomical education. A novel multi‐colored and multi‐material 3DP model of the upper limb was developed based on a plastinated upper limb prosection, capturing muscles, nerves, arteries and bones with a spatial resolution of ∼1 mm. This study aims to examine the educational value of the 3DP model from the learner's point of view. Students (n = 15) compared the developed 3DP models with the plastinated prosections, and provided their views on their learning experience using 3DP models using a survey and focus group discussion. Anatomical features in 3DP models were rated as accurate by all students. Several positive aspects of 3DP models were highlighted, such as the color coding by tissue type, flexibility and that less care was needed in the handling and examination of the specimen than plastinated specimens which facilitated the appreciation of relations between the anatomical structures. However, students reported that anatomical features in 3DP models are less realistic compared to the plastinated specimens. Multi‐colored, multi‐material 3DP models are a valuable resource for anatomical education and an excellent adjunct to wet cadaveric or plastinated prosections.

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