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Original Article

Anat Cell Biol 2020; 53(1): 48-57

Published online March 1, 2020


Copyright © Korean Association of ANATOMISTS.

Development of a three-dimensional printed heart from computed tomography images of a plastinated specimen for learning anatomy

Shairah Radzi, 1Heang Kuan Joel Tan, 2Gerald Jit Shen Tan, 1, 3Wai Yee Yeong, 2Michael Alan Ferenczi, 1Naomi Low-Beer, 1 and Sreenivasulu Reddy Mogali1

1Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
2Singapore Centre for 3D Printing, School of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
3Department of Diagnostic Radiology, Tan Tock Seng Hospital, Singapore.

Correspondence to: Sreenivasulu Reddy Mogali. Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, Nanyang Technological University, 11 Mandalay Road, 308232 Singapore. Tel: +65-6592-3114, Fax: +65-6339-2889, Email: sreenivasulu.reddy@ntu.edu.sg

Received: July 4, 2019; Revised: September 20, 2019; Accepted: September 26, 2019

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/) which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Learning anatomy is commonly facilitated by use of cadavers, plastic models and more recently three-dimensional printed (3DP) anatomical models as they allow students to physically touch and hold the body segments. However, most existing models are limited to surface features of the specimen, with little opportunity to manipulate the structures. There is much interest in developing better 3DP models suitable for anatomy education. This study aims to determine the feasibility of developing a multi-material 3DP heart model, and to evaluate students' perceptions of the model. Semi-automated segmentation was performed on computed tomgoraphy plastinated heart images to develop its 3D digital heart model. Material jetting was used as part of the 3D printing process so that various colors and textures could be assigned to the individual segments of the model. Morphometric analysis was conducted to quantify the differences between the printed model and the plastinated heart. Medical students' opinions were sought using a 5-point Likert scale. The 3DP full heart was anatomically accurate, pliable and compressible to touch. The major vessels of the heart were color-coded for easy recognition. Morphometric analysis of the printed model was comparable with the plastinated heart. Students were positive about the quality of the model and the majority of them reported that the model was useful for their learning and that they would recommend their use for anatomical education. The successful feasibility study and students' positive views suggest that the development of multi-material 3DP models is promising for medical education.

Keywords: Three-dimensional printing, Anatomical education, Educational tools, Multi-material and-color, Segmentation

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