Article Abstract

The Barrow Biomimetic Spine: effect of a 3-dimensional-printed spinal osteotomy model on performance of spinal osteotomies by medical students and interns

Authors: Michael A. Bohl, James J. Zhou, Michael A. Mooney, Garrett J. Repp, Claudio Cavallo, Peter Nakaji, Steve W. Chang, Jay D. Turner, U. Kumar Kakarla


Background: The Schwab osteotomy grading scale—a unified osteotomy classification system created in 2014 by Schwab et al.—is one of many concepts in spine surgery that require detailed knowledge of 3-dimensional (3D) anatomy. 3D-printed spine models have demonstrated increasing utility in spine surgery as they more quickly communicate information on complex 3D anatomical relationships than planar imaging or 2-dimensional images. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the utility of a custom, 3D-printed spine model to help surgical trainees understand and perform the Schwab osteotomy grading scale.
Methods: Eight participants were randomized into 2 groups: group 1 received written instructional materials about the Schwab osteotomy grading scale, whereas group 2 received both written materials and a 3D-printed model of the spine with osteotomy regions demarcated. All participants were administered written and practical examinations.
Results: The group randomized to receive the 3D-printed model performed significantly better on both the written assessment (mean score, 7.75±0.50 vs. 5.75±0.50, P=0.023) and the practical examination (mean score, 1.75±0.32 vs. 1.08±0.09, P=0.025) than the group that received only written instructions.
Conclusions: Our results support the conclusion that this 3D-printed spine model is an effective adjunct to help early surgical trainees understand the Schwab osteotomy grading scale. Participants who received the model in addition to the source manuscript demonstrated improved theoretical knowledge and better performance on practical tests of complex spinal osteotomies. Similar models are likely to have utility in surgical training programs and as patient education models.