Where Art Meets Science: Development and Evaluation of 3-D Models in Veterinary Education

Project Details


Veterinary medicine by definition requires students to develop a deep understanding of tissue and organ structure and function. A major challenge in linking theory to practice comes in supporting students to develop spatial understanding of key anatomical structures. This has relevance not only to understanding of the underpinning structure and function of normal body systems but also to understanding of the 3D development of pathology and disease. Furthermore, since veterinary students on day 1 after graduation are expected to be able to carry out basic surgical procedures, it is perhaps more essential than for any other subject, that they develop a sound understanding of 3D surgical anatomy. An additional relevant point is that veterinary medicine today is predominantly a female occupation and some studies have shown that women find it harder to comprehend 3D anatomy from 2D displays than men. There are also important ethical issues which mean that educators wish to explore alternatives to the use of animal tissues in teaching whenever possible.
Studies elsewhere have shown some encouraging results using 3-D images in surgery and anatomy teaching 3-5 however we are not aware of the use of this technique in the context of comparing normal with abnormal structures. Similarly, whilst plastinated specimens have been used for many years in anatomy teaching6, the relatively recent availability of reasonably priced 3D printers means that this project would be the first that we are aware of to explore de novo generation of 3D printed models in veterinary or medical education.
We propose to develop 3 D prints in two ways and compare the resources developed to 3D video recordings of normal and abnormal anatomical structures by making of use of freely available software on the iPod platform.
To generate the first series of 3D prints, long bone specimens from domestic animals will be photographed from different angles. The digital photofiles will be processed with software generating an object file and this will then be printed as a 3D model in life size. For the second series, the bone specimen will undergo a computed tomography scan. The CT data will be used to create an object file, and this will then again be printed in 3D in life size.
By comparing the accuracy of both print models we are hoping to establish, whether simple and cheap photographic modelling is sufficient for educational purposes or whether the more expensive computed tomographic technique is required. In turn we will explore the student experience of working with the 3D printed models and the 3D video files.
By collaborating with academics embedded in ECA, this will allow an opportunity for ECA students to work alongside the veterinary students and explore the artistic possibilities of the models selected. This will build on existing strong collaborations between the disciplines and open up an exciting opportunity for ECA students to consider the artistic potential of the objects and for veterinary students to ‘view with fresh eyes’ the normal and abnormal objects that we create.

Layman's description

The aim of this project is to develop and evaluate 3D printed models (from both an artistic and scientific perspective) and 3D digital images for undergraduate student education
Effective start/end date1/07/1330/06/14


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