3D-printed tracheobronchial tree models compared favorably against other more standard models in training pulmonary physicians to perform bronchoscopy, according to research that will be presented Sunday October 25th at CHEST 2015 in Montréal.

Researchers from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston compared the two models based on realism, accuracy, look and feel, and overall usefulness as a teaching tool. Currently, most simulation centers use models that are more expensive than 3D-printed models and fail to capture the subtle anatomical details of the airways.

The 3D-printed models tested were printed into a flexible nylon tracheobronchial tree and stained to match the coloration of the airway mucosa. Participants with different levels of training performed bronchoscopy on both the standard and 3D model and graded each using a sliding scale from 0 to 100. Overall, physicians preferred the 3D printed models regardless of their level of training.

“3D-printed airway models are low-cost, realistic, educational, and clinically useful bronchoscopy teaching models,” said Dr. George Cheng, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center physician and lead researcher. “They can be readily generated with 3D printing technology.”