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MANUSCRIPT: Usage of 3D models of tetralogy of Fallot for medical education: impact on learning congenital heart disease


Congenital heart disease (CHD) is the most common human birth defect, and clinicians need to understand the anatomy to effectively care for patients with CHD. However, standard two-dimensional (2D) display methods do not adequately carry the critical spatial information to reflect CHD anatomy. Three-dimensional (3D) models may be useful in improving the understanding of CHD, without requiring a mastery of cardiac imaging. The study aimed to evaluate the impact of 3D models on how pediatric residents understand and learn about tetralogy of Fallot following a teaching session.


Pediatric residents rotating through an inpatient Cardiology rotation were recruited. The sessions were randomized into using either conventional 2D drawings of tetralogy of Fallot or physical 3D models printed from 3D cardiac imaging data sets (cardiac MR, CT, and 3D echocardiogram). Knowledge acquisition was measured by comparing pre-session and post-session knowledge test scores. Learner satisfaction and self-efficacy ratings were measured with questionnaires filled out by the residents after the teaching sessions. Comparisons between the test scores, learner satisfaction and self-efficacy questionnaires for the two groups were assessed with paired t-test.


Thirty-five pediatric residents enrolled into the study, with no significant differences in background characteristics, including previous clinical exposure to tetralogy of Fallot. The 2D image group (n = 17) and 3D model group (n = 18) demonstrated similar knowledge acquisition in post-test scores. Residents who were taught with 3D models gave a higher composite learner satisfaction scores (P = 0.03). The 3D model group also had higher self-efficacy aggregate scores, but the difference was not statistically significant (P = 0.39).


Physical 3D models enhance resident education around the topic of tetralogy of Fallot by improving learner satisfaction. Future studies should examine the impact of models on teaching CHD that are more complex and elaborate.

via Usage of 3D models of tetralogy of Fallot for medical education: impact on learning congenital heart disease.

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Brian is a research scientist and educational technologist. He helped transform Pfizer’s Medical Education Group and previously served in educational leadership roles at HealthAnswers, Inc.; Acumentis, LLC.; Cephalon; and Wyeth. He taught graduate medical education programs at Arcadia University for 10 years. Dr. McGowan recently authored the book "#socialQI: Simple Solutions for Improving Your Healthcare" and has been invited to speak internationally on the subject of information flow, technology, and learning in healthcare.

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