Current Transplantation Reports

, Volume 3, Issue 1, pp 109–119 | Cite as

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

  • Ellen K. O’BrienEmail author
  • Diane B. Wayne
  • Katherine A. Barsness
  • William C. McGaghie
  • Jeffrey H. Barsuk
Tissue Engineering and Regeneration (JA Wertheim, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Tissue Engineering and Regeneration


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.


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



The authors would like to thank Senior Clinical Informationist, Jonna Peterson, at Northwestern University’s Galter Health Sciences Library for her help conducting the search.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ellen O’Brien, Diane B. Wayne, Katherine A. Barsness, William C. McGaghie, and Jeffrey H. Barsuk declare that they have no conflict of interest relevant to this manuscript.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ellen K. O’Brien
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Diane B. Wayne
    • 1
    • 3
  • Katherine A. Barsness
    • 1
    • 4
    • 5
  • William C. McGaghie
    • 1
  • Jeffrey H. Barsuk
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Medical EducationNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Northwestern SimulationChicagoUSA
  3. 3.Department of MedicineNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  4. 4.Department of SurgeryNorthwestern University Feinberg School of MedicineChicagoUSA
  5. 5.Division of Pediatric SurgeryAnn & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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