Can 3D-Printed Organ Replicas Help Train Better Surgeons?
Before a student can become a surgeon, they typically spend months conducting mock surgeries on human cadavers. Unfortunately, surgical students aren’t guaranteed to see specific conditions or diseases during the course of their cadaver studies. Rather, it’s the luck of the draw. Medical cadavers are also in relatively short supply. In some cases, students have to practice on animal organs rather than human cadavers. In recent years, some medical professionals have even called the educational value of cadaver training sessions into question.
Performing simulated surgical procedures on cadavers is certainly much better than having no practical experience at all, but it’s still no substitute for the real thing. That’s why French startup Biomodex has begun creating highly realistic 3D-Printed replicas of organs for surgeons to practice on instead.
The company is even able to create patient-specific replicas of organs to help surgeons prepare for procedures. They can also create replica organs that mimic different pathologies and conditions. In this regard, these models can be used not only to train new surgeons but to help experienced surgeons practice difficult or highly-specialized procedures as well.
“We can reproduce a specific arm or leg fracture when a teacher wants to give a particular lesson,” said Biomodex co-founder Thomas Marchand in an interview. “Finally, 3D simulation of bodies is not only an alternative, but it is often the only method of training, particularly for pediatric illnesses, whether congenital or not. This is because the law does not allow minors to donate their bodies to medical science.”
The founders of Biomodex hope that their models could help to reduce patient mortality by allowing surgeons to better prepare for difficult, risky procedures. Currently, they can produce models for orthopedic, cardiac and ear, nose and throat procedures. Ultimately they hope to create replica models of all the organs and structures in the human body and potentially replace cadavers as educational tools.