Virtual reality angiogram vs 3-dimensional printed angiogram as an educational tool: a comparative study

David Bairamian, Shinuo Liu, Behzad Eftekhar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Three-dimensional (3D) visualization of the neurovascular structures has helped preoperative surgical planning. 3D printed models and virtual reality (VR) devices are 2 options to improve 3D stereovision and stereoscopic depth perception of cerebrovascular anatomy for aneurysm surgery. Objective: To investigate and compare the practicality and potential of 3D printed and VR models in a neurosurgical education context. Methods: The VR angiogram was introduced through the development and testing of a VR smartphone app. Ten neurosurgical trainees from Australia and New Zealand participated in a 2-part interactive exercise using 3 3D printed and VR angiogram models followed by a questionnaire about their experience. In a separate exercise to investigate the learning curve effect on VR angiogram application, a qualified neurosurgeon was subjected to 15 exercises involving manipulating VR angiograms models. Results: VR angiogram outperformed 3D printed model in terms of resolution. It had statistically significant advantage in ability to zoom, resolution, ease of manipulation, model durability, and educational potential. VR angiogram had a higher questionnaire total score than 3D models. The 3D printed models had a statistically significant advantage in depth perception and ease of manipulation. The results were independent of trainee year level, sequence of the tests, or anatomy. Conclusion: In selected cases with challenging cerebrovascular anatomy where stereoscopic depth perception is helpful, VR angiogram should be considered as a viable alternative to the 3D printed models for neurosurgical training and preoperative planning. An immersive virtual environment offers excellent resolution and ability to zoom, potentiating it as an untapped educational tool.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)E343-E349
Number of pages7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • 3D printing
  • Angiogram
  • Cerebral aneurysm
  • Neurosurgical education
  • Smartphone app
  • Virtual reality

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