Vertebral fractures and luxations are common causes of neurological emergencies in small animal patients. The objective of this study is to evaluate the impact of three-dimensional printing (3Dp) models on how veterinary students understand and learn to identify canine spinal fractures and to compare 3Dp to computed tomography (CT) images and 3D-CT reconstructions. Three spinal fracture models were generated by 3Dp. Sixty first-year veterinary students were randomized into three teaching module groups (CT, 3D-CT, or 3Dp) and asked to answer a multiple choice questionnaire with 12 questions that covered normal spinal anatomy and the identification of vertebral fractures. Four additional questions wanted to evaluate the overall learning experience and knowledge acquisition in this session. Results showed that students in the 3Dp group performed significantly better than those in the CT (p<0.001) and the 3D-CT (p<0.001) groups. Students in the 3Dp and 3D-CT groups were faster to answer all questions compared to CT group (3Dp vs. CT: p< 0.001; 3D-CT vs. CT: p<0.001), with no significant differences between the 3Dp and 3D-CT groups (p=0.051). Regarding the learning experience across groups, only the degree of knowledge acquisition that the students considered they had acquired during the session showed significant differences between groups (p=0.01). In conclusion, across first-year veterinary students, 3Dp models facilitated learning about the normal canine vertebral anatomy and markedly improved the identification of canine spinal fractures. Three-dimensional printing models are an easy and inexpensive teaching method that could be incorporated into veterinary neuroanatomy classes to improve learning in undergraduate students.
- 3-D printing
- vertebral fractures