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3D-printed body parts could replace cadavers for medical training

Reporter: Irina Robu, PhD

Even though, the 3-D printing based tissue modeling is still in early phases it is considered a promising approach for anatomy training. Models that are produced on a computer screen can be reproduced as tangible objects that students can examine and even dissect. According to a recent report in Medical Science Educator, the latest advancement in 3D printing can revolutionize how anatomy students learn.

For now, human cadavers have been the norm for studying human anatomy but they come with financial and logistical concerns both on storage and disposal. However, with the advancement of custom designed 3D organs, made possible by using 3D printing the need to keep large collection of physical models are reduced. With just a 3D printer, a digital model of the organ needed to study can be reproduced either with resin, thermoplastics, photopolymers and other material. Different materials can be used to allow construction of complex models with hard, soft, opaque and transparent conditions. The printed body parts will look exactly the same as the real thing because they are falsely colored to help students distinguish between the different parts of the anatomy including ligaments, muscles and blood vessels. Medical schools and hospitals around the world would be able to buy just an arm or a foot or the entire body depending on their training need.

Furthermore, to customizing anatomy lessons, 3D printed models can be used for teaching pathology/radiology by comparing CT images of the organs to their 3D-printed counterparts which students can examine and understand. Yet, the methods of 3D printing vary by materials used, resolution accuracy, long term stability, cost, speed and more. The printer cost is still a concern at this point partly because 3D bioprinters cost thousands of dollars nonetheless the cost is dropping due to the introduction of innovative printing materials.

Therefore, in order for 3-D printing to become more widely used, costs must be reduced while resolution must continue to improve. Instructors can potentially print one model per student in a material of their choosing that can be dissected. And no matter how much medical science moves with the times, there would always be the requisite skeleton model in the corner of most anatomy rooms.

SOURCE

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-07-22/an-3d-body-parts-could-replace-cadavers-for-medical-training/5615210

 

Additional Resources

Medical Science Educator, June 2015, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 183–194| Cite as

Anatomical Models: a Digital Revolution

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40670-015-0115-9/fulltext.html

 

Goodbye to Cadavers?

https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/2015/09/goodbye-to-cadavers/

 

3-D Printing: Innovation Allows Customized Airway Stents

https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/2014/12/3-d-printing-innovation-allows-customized-airway-stents/

 

Exploring 3-D Printing’s Potential in Renal Surgery

https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/2015/06/exploring-3-d-printings-potential-in-renal-surgery/

 

How 3-D Printing Is Revolutionizing Medicine at Cleveland Clinic

https://consultqd.clevelandclinic.org/2015/11/how-3-d-printing-is-revolutionizing-medicine-at-cleveland-clinic/

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