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Keywords:

  • gross anatomy education;
  • medical education;
  • human anatomy;
  • cadavers;
  • image processing;
  • 3D printing;
  • rapid prototyping;
  • additive manufacturing;
  • anatomical models

The teaching of anatomy has consistently been the subject of societal controversy, especially in the context of employing cadaveric materials in professional medical and allied health professional training. The reduction in dissection-based teaching in medical and allied health professional training programs has been in part due to the financial considerations involved in maintaining bequest programs, accessing human cadavers and concerns with health and safety considerations for students and staff exposed to formalin-containing embalming fluids. This report details how additive manufacturing or three-dimensional (3D) printing allows the creation of reproductions of prosected human cadaver and other anatomical specimens that obviates many of the above issues. These 3D prints are high resolution, accurate color reproductions of prosections based on data acquired by surface scanning or CT imaging. The application of 3D printing to produce models of negative spaces, contrast CT radiographic data using segmentation software is illustrated. The accuracy of printed specimens is compared with original specimens. This alternative approach to producing anatomically accurate reproductions offers many advantages over plastination as it allows rapid production of multiple copies of any dissected specimen, at any size scale and should be suitable for any teaching facility in any country, thereby avoiding some of the cultural and ethical issues associated with cadaver specimens either in an embalmed or plastinated form. Anat Sci Educ 7: 479–486. © 2014 American Association of Anatomists.