3D Printers Make Accurate Low Cost Bronchoscopes for Education

Dr. George Cheng MD Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

Dr. George Cheng

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. George Cheng MD
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cheng: Since the introduction of flexible bronchoscope in late 1960s, flexible bronchoscopy has gained wide popularity and with over 500,000 procedures being performed in the USA annually.  Bronchoscopy training has been undergoing rapid advancement in recent years.  Virtual bronchoscopy, either web-based training or VR bronchoscopic simulators, were used to teach and to improve performance in bronchoscopy.  However, virtual reality simulators often cost over $100,000 dollars.  Given the prohibitive high cost, recent CHEST expert panel recommended that high fidelity simulators be offered only in regional simulation centers.  Therefore, low cost realistic bronchoscopy training models are an area of need.

Recent development in 3D printing and 3D medical modeling has allowed clinicians to utilize CT scans to create physical models.  This approach can be used to create affordable 3D printed, anatomically accurate bronchoscopy training models.  However, the 3D printed tracheobronchial model has never been evaluated as a bronchoscopy simulation tool.  We aimed to address this question with our study.

The 3D printed bronchoscopy model was generated from flexible nylon material and stained to match the airway mucosa coloration.  Participants of varies training levels performed bronchoscopy on both standard and 3D printed bronchoscopy model, graded each on a sliding scale from 0-100.  Overall, clinicians preferred the 3D printed model regardless of their level of training.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Cheng: The 3D printed bronchoscopy model is a low cost, anatomically accurate, readily adaptable education tool to aid in bronchoscopy training.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Cheng: 3D printing is a powerful tool to generate different training models for medical education.  This can be especially interesting if a repository for 3D printable models of both normal and abnormal anatomy becomes available.


George Z. Cheng, Erik Folch, Robert Brik, Sidhu Gangadharan, Pavan Mallur, Jennifer H. Wilson, Bryan Husta, Adnan Majid. Three-dimensional Modeled T-tube Design and Insertion in a Patient With Tracheal Dehiscence. CHEST Journal, 2015; 148 (4): e106 DOI: 10.1378/chest.15-0240

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Dr. George Cheng MD (2015). 3D Printers Make Accurate Low Cost Bronchoscopes for Education