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O'Reilly, Michael K.; Reese, Sven ORCID: 0000-0002-4605-9791; Herlihy, Therese; Geoghegan, Tony; Cantwell, Colin P.; Feeney, Robin N. M.; Jones, James F. X. (January 2016): Fabrication and Assessment of 3D Printed Anatomical Models of the Lower Limb for Anatomical Teaching and Femoral Vessel Access Training in Medicine. In: Anatomical sciences education, Vol. 9, No. 1: pp. 71-79


For centuries, cadaveric dissection has been the touchstone of anatomy education. It offers a medical student intimate access to his or her first patient. In contrast to idealized artisan anatomical models, it presents the natural variation of anatomy in fine detail. However, a new teaching construct has appeared recently in which artificial cadavers are manufactured through three-dimensional (3D) printing of patient specific radiological data sets. In this article, a simple powder based printer is made more versatile to manufacture hard bones, silicone muscles and perfusable blood vessels. The approach involves blending modern approaches (3D printing) with more ancient ones (casting and lost-wax techniques). These anatomically accurate models can augment the approach to anatomy teaching from dissection to synthesis of 3D-printed parts held together with embedded rare earth magnets. Vascular simulation is possible through application of pumps and artificial blood. The resulting arteries and veins can be cannulated and imaged with Doppler ultrasound. In some respects, 3D-printed anatomy is superior to older teaching methods because the parts are cheap, scalable, they can cover the entire age span, they can be both dissected and reassembled and the data files can be printed anywhere in the world and mass produced. Anatomical diversity can be collated as a digital repository and reprinted rather than waiting for the rare variant to appear in the dissection room. It is predicted that 3D printing will revolutionize anatomy when poly-material printing is perfected in the early 21st century. (C) 2015 American Association of Anatomists.