3-D-printed models improve medical student training

March 20, 2018

A relatively inexpensive 3-D-printed model of a patient’s blood vessels is as effective as current commercially available models for training medical students in interventional radiology vascular access, according to a study presented at the Society of Interventional Radiology’s 2018 Annual Scientific Meeting.

Interventional radiologists commonly treat patients using less-invasive options to surgery that involve inserting a catheter through a major artery under ultrasound guidance in order to reach internal organs or blood vessels. The researchers tested medical students’ comfort in using a 3-D-printed model, compared to commercially available models, to simulate ultrasound-guided access through the femoral artery in the groin.

Thirty-two students were randomized to practice with the 3-D-printed model or the commercial model in a simulation experience developed by the authors of the study. Prior to the simulation exercise, 73% of the 3-D group and 76% of the commercial-model group indicated that they did not feel confident in performing the procedure. After the training, most of the 3D model and commercial model trainees agreed that their respective models were easy to use (93.3% and 94.1%) and helpful for practice (93.3% and 94.1%). Additionally, confidence in performing the procedure, known as femoral artery access, increased a similar amount in both groups.

Medical simulation exercises are playing an increasingly larger role in medical training; especially in the field of interventional radiology. Many commercially available devices cost between $2,000 and $3,000 each, while 3-D printing has the ability to produce practice models inexpensively and more realistically, the authors said.

The 3-D-printing technology can reproduce a patient’s exact vessels based on a CT scan and produce an ultrasound-compatible vascular access model that is unique to that patient’s anatomy. To adapt the 3-D printing technology to their needs, the researchers used a tissue-mimicking material that was durable to withstand punctures, but still felt realistic. This tailoring allows trainees to practice with variations in anatomy before they encounter them during a procedure, which may help to lower complication rates, researchers said.

Medical Xpress has the full article

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