Research Article: Methods for verification of 3D printed anatomic model accuracy using cardiac models as an example

Date Published: March 29, 2019

Publisher: Springer International Publishing

Author(s): Mohammad Odeh, Dmitry Levin, Jim Inziello, Fluvio Lobo Fenoglietto, Moses Mathur, Joshua Hermsen, Jack Stubbs, Beth Ripley.


Medical 3D printing has brought the manufacturing world closer to the patient’s bedside than ever before. This requires hospitals and their personnel to update their quality assurance program to more appropriately accommodate the 3D printing fabrication process and the challenges that come along with it.

In this paper, we explored different methods for verifying the accuracy of a 3D printed anatomical model. Methods included physical measurements, digital photographic measurements, surface scanning, photogrammetry, and computed tomography (CT) scans. The details of each verification method, as well as their benefits and challenges, are discussed.

There are multiple methods for model verification, each with benefits and drawbacks. The choice of which method to adopt into a quality assurance program is multifactorial and will depend on the type of 3D printed models being created, the training of personnel, and what resources are available within a 3D printed laboratory.

Partial Text

3-dimensional (3D) printing is a method of fabrication that allows for the creation of graspable 3D objects from a digital blueprint. One of the most compelling use cases for 3D printing in medicine is the creation of patient-specific anatomical models for presurgical planning [1–3]. In these cases, the digital blueprint used for printing is created from a patient’s medical imaging data [4]. The resultant physical model can be given to a surgeon/ interventionalist, offering him or her an opportunity to plan the surgery before stepping into the operating room/catheterization lab. Due to positive feedback from the use of these 3D printed anatomical models during pre-surgical consultations, there has been a push to explore additional ways that 3D models can be used. Other examples of using 3D printed models in the hospital include benchtop surgical simulation [5–7], sizing of devices prior to a surgery or procedure [8–13], and designing patient-matched surgical cutting guides [14, 15] or implants [16–21].

A quality assurance (QA) program takes years to establish and build and is comprised of numerous components, each with its inherent intricacies. Here, we explored one component of a QA program – verification of part accuracy. Verification requires measurement of final model dimensions and comparison of those measurements to the physical geometry of the patient’s anatomy. In cases of internal anatomy, the patient’s medical imaging often serves as a proxy for the actual anatomy. The substitution of imaging data for ground truth inherently introduces some degree of error into the verification process, which is mitigated by established radiology department QC/QA practices for ensuring image accuracy. It is important to remember that the quality of the imaging always constrains the quality of the model.

Verification of 3D printed model accuracy is an essential, but nontrivial, component of a quality assurance program. Numerous methods for measuring 3D printed model dimensions exist, each with benefits and drawbacks. The choice of verification method should be made after considering the unique clinical requirements of the 3D model being verified, as well as the expertise and preferences of program staff. Specific recommendations to the reader on the number or frequency of models to verify for a given workflow is beyond our purview; instead, readers should look to existing regulatory guidance [37, 38].




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