Evaluating 3D printed models of coronary anomalies: a survey among clinicians and researchers at a university hospital in the UK

Matthew Lee, Sarah Moharem-Elgamal, Rylan Beckingham, Mark C K Hamilton, Nathan E Manghat, Elena Giulia Milano, Chiara Bucciarelli-Ducci, Massimo Caputo, Giovanni Biglino

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)
176 Downloads (Pure)


Objective: To evaluate the feasibility of three-dimensional (3D) printing models of coronary artery anomalies based on cardiac CT data and explore their potential for clinical applications.

Design: Cardiac CT datasets of patients with various coronary artery anomalies (n=8) were retrospectively reviewed and processed, reconstructing detailed 3D models to be printed in-house with a desktop 3D printer (Form 2, Formlabs) using white resin.

Setting: A University Hospital (division of cardiology) in the UK.

The CT scans, first and then 3D-printed models were presented to groups of clinicians (n=8) and cardiovascular researchers (n=9).

Participants were asked to assess different features of the 3D models and to rate the models’ overall potential usefulness.

measures Models were rated according to clarity of anatomical detail, insight into the coronary abnormality, overall perceived usefulness and comparison to CT scans. Assessment of model characteristics used Likert-type questions (5-point scale from ‘strongly disagree’ to ‘strongly agree’) or a 10-point rating (from 0, lowest, to 10, highest). The questionnaire included a feedback form summarising overall usefulness. Participants’ imaging experience (in a number of years) was also recorded.

Results: All models were reconstructed and printed successfully, with accurate details showing coronary anatomy (eg, anomalous coronary artery, coronary roofing or coronary aneurysm in a patient with Kawasaki syndrome). All clinicians and researchers provided feedback, with both groups finding the models helpful in displaying coronary artery anatomy and abnormalities, and complementary to viewing 3D CT scans. The clinicians’ group, who had substantially more imaging expertise, provided more enthusiastic ratings in terms of models’ clarity, usefulness and future use on average.

3D-printed heart models can be feasibly used to recreate coronary artery anatomy and enhance understanding of coronary abnormalities. Future studies can evaluate their cost-effectiveness, as well as potentially explore other printing techniques and materials.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere025227
Number of pages10
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number3
Early online date8 Mar 2019
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 8 Mar 2019


  • coronary artery anomalies
  • 3D printing
  • computed tomography
  • coronary arteries

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