Trade Resources Industry Knowledge Innovations in 3-D Printing Have Allowed Researchers to Fabricate Human Bones

Innovations in 3-D Printing Have Allowed Researchers to Fabricate Human Bones

Posted in Printing Equipment and Supplies by Qmed Staff on November 25, 2013

Innovations in 3-D printing have allowed researchers to fabricate human bones, ears, early-prototype human hearts, strips of liver and face prosthetics. In the latest 3-D printing breakthrough, medical researchers in Florida have used the technology to create practice brains for surgeons. By conducting a procedure on a simulated patient brain, surgeons can reduce procedural times and minimize the risk of complications, according to LiveScience.

At the University of Florida, researchers created a novel surgery simulation system that allows residents to practice a variety of surgical techniques on printed models based on real human skulls and brains. These models are created with CT and MRI scans of real patients.

For example, surgeons often use a fluoroscope during real brain procedures. With the printed model and simulation system, a surgeon could insert a needle into the “brain” while monitoring the insertion process on a screen.

"We can create a physical model, so the residents learn to put their hands in the right position," noted Dr. Frank Bova of the University of Florida. "When they get their first patient, they're not learning five different, new skills."

As of now, the Florida research team is developing a full training curriculum that makes use of the 3-D models and the simulation system. Bova estimates the library for the project should be complete in less than a year.

Combining 3-D-printed models and digital simulation systems is a novel way to train new surgeons. Many traditional training systems use generalized physical models, cadavers, or virtual simulations for practice. With the new system, surgical residents will be able to explore actual patient anatomies while using realistically-weighted surgical tools.

In the future, Bova believes that this system could help physicians conduct practice operations before an actual surgery. By creating a 3-D-printed model of a patient’s skull and brain, physicians could find the best surgical approach for a patient before opening him or her up. That said, researchers are still concentrating on a library for residents. However, creating 3-D-printed models for presurgery practice may be right around the corner.

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3-D Printers Could Serve up Practice Brains for Surgeons