Using 3D-printing technology to create novel simulator models

Using 3D-printing technology to create novel simulator models for the performance of cerebrospinal fluid sampling

School:  Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Team Members:  Megan Madden, Anna Sunol-Iniesta, Richard Collins


Simulator models are sustainable and ethical alternatives to the use of cadavers and live animals in veterinary undergraduate training programs. However, the physical form of these models often fails to accurately represent living patients. This becomes problematic when training students in procedures that rely on the precise identification of anatomical landmarks. An example of such a procedure is cerebrospinal fluid sampling (‘spinal taps’). This pilot study aims to develop and evaluate the first known simulator models to allow students to practice this technique. In collaboration with the Edinburgh College of Art, we will use 3D-printing technology to produce anatomically-precise skeletal models which will be augmented with additional synthetic materials to create realistic, life-sized simulators.

The simulators will be optimised and evaluated by experienced users until their feel and appearance are considered comparable to a living patient. Subsequently, students will be invited to take part in a unique practical session using either a simulator or cadaver. Using surveys, we will collect and compare data from each group regarding user experience and knowledge acquisition during the practical.

The results of this study will allow us to evaluate the integration of 3D-printing into simulator design and provide evidence to support or refute the use of simulator models over cadavers in veterinary education. This project will represent the first application of 3D-printing technology to create a simulator model for this purpose. In the future, the same technology could be exploited further to produce a wide range of simulators for use in teaching curriculums worldwide.

Final report

Download the final project report (PDF)

Other Project Outcomes

Madden M, Collins R, Schwarz T, Suñol, A  (2022)  Use of 3D Printing Technology to Create a Canine Simulator for Cerebrospinal Fluid Sampling at the Lumbar Subarachnoid Space   Journal of Veterinary Medical Education