Teaching middle ear anatomy using a novel three-dimensional papercraft model

John Guy, Jameel Muzaffar, Christopher Coulson

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Background The middle ear is a complex anatomical space which is difficult to interpret from two-dimensional imagery. Appropriate surgical knowledge of the area is required to operate, yet current anatomical teaching methods are costly and hard to access for the trainee. Methods A papercraft 3D design involving anatomical elements added separately to a model was designed, and then peer-validated by medical students and junior doctors. Preliminary quantitative assessment was performed using an anatomical labelling questionnaire, with six students given a lecture to act as a control. Qualitative feedback was also gathered. Results 18 participants were recruited for the study. A total of 12 models were constructed by 6 medical students and 6 junior doctors. 6 medical students received a lecture only. Qualitative feedback was positive and suggested the model improved knowledge and was useful, yet timing and complexity were issues. Students scored, on average, 37% higher after completing the model, with junior doctors also improving anatomical knowledge, though these differences were not significant (p > 0.05). Conclusions In this initial investigation, the model was shown to be an engaging way to learn anatomy, with the tactile and active nature of the process cited as benefits. Construction of the model improved anatomical knowledge to a greater extent than a classical lecture in this study, though this difference was not significant. Further design iterations are required to improve practical utility in the teaching environment, as well as a larger study.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Archives of Oto-Rhino-Laryngology
Early online date24 Sept 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Sept 2020


  • Anatomy
  • Medical education
  • Middle ear
  • Paper model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Otorhinolaryngology


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