Using 3D Printing to Improve Student Education of Complex Anatomy: a Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

David Salazar, Michael Thompson, Adam Rosen, Jorge Zuniga

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective: Additive manufacturing has played an increasingly important role in the field of health care. One of the most recent applications has been the development of 3D printed anatomical models specifically to improve student education. The purpose of this review was to assess the potential for 3D printed models to improve understanding of complex anatomy in undergraduate and medical/professional students. Methods: A systematic review was performed to investigate the different implementations of 3D printed anatomical models in educational curricula. In addition, a meta-analysis was conducted to assess the differences in comprehension between students who received 3D printed models as part of their instruction and those taught with traditional methods. Results: Of the 10 groups included in the meta-analysis, students whose educational experience included a 3D printed model scored roughly 11% better on objective assessments compared to students who did not use such models (Hedge’s g = 0.742, p < 0.001). Conclusion: Based on these findings, the use of 3D printed anatomical models as a method of education is likely to improve students’ understanding of complex anatomical structures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1209-1218
Number of pages10
JournalMedical Science Educator
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • 3D printing
  • Anatomic model
  • Education
  • Student

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Education


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