AlAli A, Griffin M, Calonge W, Butler P. Evaluating the use of cleft lip and palate 3D-printed models as a teaching aid. Journal of Surgical Education. 2018,75(1):200-208


Objective - Visualization tools are essential for effective medical education, to aid students understanding of complex anatomical systems. Three dimensional (3D) printed models are showing a wide-reaching potential in the field of medical education, to aid the interpretation of 2D imaging. This study investigates the use of 3D-printed models in educational seminars on cleft lip and palate, by comparing integrated “hands-on” student seminars, with 2D presentation seminar methods.

Setting - Cleft lip and palate models were manufactured using 3D-printing technology at the medical school.

Participants - Sixty-seven students from two medical schools participated in the study.

Design - The students were randomly allocated to 2 groups. Knowledge was compared between the groups using a multiple-choice question test before and after the teaching intervention. Group 1 was the control group with a PowerPoint presentation-based educational seminar and group 2 was the test group, with the same PowerPoint presentation, but with the addition of a physical demonstration using 3D-printed models of unilateral and bilateral cleft lips and palate.

Results - The level of knowledge gained was established using a preseminar and postseminar assessment, in 2 different institutions, where the addition of the 3D-printed model resulted in a significant improvement in the mean percentage of knowledge gained (44.65% test group; 32.16%; control group; p = 0.038). Student experience was assessed using a postseminar survey, where students felt the 3D-printed model significantly improved the learning experience (p = 0.005) and their visualization (p = 0.001).

Conclusions - This study highlights the benefits of the use of 3D-printed models as visualization tools in medical education and the potential of 3D-printing technology to become a standard and effective tool in the interpretation of 2D imaging.

Author's keywords: 3D printing, education, teaching aid, visualization, cleft lip and palate, additive manufacturing

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