The Evolution of 3D Anatomical Models: A Brief Historical Overview

Pranay Narang, Bharath Raju, Fareed Jumah, Subhas Kanti Konar, Anmol Nagaraj, Gaurav Gupta, Anil Nanda

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For thousands of years, anatomical models have served as essential tools in medical instruction. While human dissections have been the regular source of information for medical students for the last few centuries, the scarcity of bodies and the religious and social taboos of previous times made the process of acquiring human cadavers a challenge. The dissection process was dependent on the availability of fresh cadavers and thus was met with a major time constraint; with poor preservation techniques, decomposition turned the process of employing bodies for instruction into a race against time. However, the advent of anatomical models has countered this issue by supplying accurate anatomical detail in a physical, three-dimensional form superior to that of the two-dimensional illustrations previously used as the primary adjunct to dissection. Artists worked with physicians and anatomists to prepare these models, creating an interdisciplinary interaction that advanced anatomical instruction at a tremendous rate. These models have taken the form of metal, wood, ivory, wax, papier-mâché, plaster, and plastic and have ultimately evolved into computerized and digital representations currently. We provide a brief historical overview of the evolution of anatomical models from a unique neuroanatomical perspective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalWorld Neurosurgery
StatePublished - Nov 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Surgery
  • Clinical Neurology


  • 3D printing
  • Anatomical models
  • Anatomy education
  • Papier-mâché models
  • Plastination
  • Simulation
  • Wax models


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