Use of 3D Printing for Medical Education Models in Transplantation Medicine: a Critical Review

Ellen K. O’Brien*, Diane B. Wayne, Katherine A Barsness, William C. McGaghie, Jeffrey H Barsuk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Three-dimensional (3D) printing is a process where a physical object is created from a three-dimensional computer model through successive material layering. 3D printing is used in many industries to design and manufacture new products. Creation of training models for use in medical education is now possible via adoption of medical 3D printing. This article presents a critical-realist review of the medical literature evaluating different ways 3D printing has been used to produce training models for medical education, with a special emphasis on transplantation medicine. From the 68 articles identified by this review, three themes emerged: (a) 3D printing of patient-specific models for preoperative planning, (b) printing training devices for direct use in simulation-based medical education, and (c) printing molds for simulation models that are then used to cast non-printable materials such as soft tissues. Only two reports were identified that described the use of 3D printing for education in transplantation medicine. Many opportunities exist for further research and advancement of 3D printing within the field of transplantation medicine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-119
Number of pages11
JournalCurrent Transplantation Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016


  • 3D printing
  • Critical-realist review
  • Medical education
  • Simulation
  • Training models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation
  • Surgery
  • Hepatology
  • Nephrology
  • Immunology


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