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How 3D printing replaced cadavers in medical study

Monday, 4 August 2014 - 5:45am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Medical education is up for a big change, a revolutionary kit containing anatomical body parts produced by 3D printing is set to change the Industry forever.The device which is aimed at education and training is especially targeting countries where cadaver use is not easy.

This '3D Printed Anatomy Series' will be the first of its kind and is being developed at Monash University. Designed without the need for any human tissue, it still has everything you would need to teach the major parts of the human anatomy.

Professor Paul McMenamin, Director of the University's Centre for Human Anatomy Education believes the anatomical kit will prove to be the trainee doctors new best friend and could lead to the development of new surgeries.

"For centuries cadavers bequested to medical schools have been used to teach students about human anatomy, a practice that continues today. However many medical schools report either a shortage of cadavers, or find their handling and storage too expensive as a result of strict regulations governing where cadavers can be dissected," he said.

"Without the ability to look inside the body and see the muscles, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels, it's incredibly hard for students to understand human anatomy. We believe our version, which looks just like the real thing, will make a huge difference."

Currently negotiations are in full swing with potential commercial partners and the set is scheduled to go on sale later this year. The kit will have a particularly large mass appeal internationally because of being cost-effective and being the only solution where the study of corpses are prohibited for cultural or religious reasons.

"Even when cadavers are available, they're often in short supply, are expensive and they can smell a bit unpleasant because of the embalming process. As a result some people don't feel that comfortable working with them," Professor McMenamin said.

"Our 3D printed series can be produced quickly and easily, and unlike cadavers they won't deteriorate – so they are a cost-effective option too."

Real anatomical specimens are scanned using CT or surface layer technology and printed in either plaster-like powder or in plastic, giving you a life like clones. "Radiographic imaging, such as CT, is a really sophisticated means of capturing information in very thin layers, almost like the pages of a book. By taking this data and making a 3D rendered model we can then colour that model and convert that to a file format that the 3D printer uses to recreate, layer by layer, a three-dimensional body part to scale," Professor McMenamin said.

"This will be a big upgrade to what we currently have giving students more practical experience as opposed to just photographs. This will also help erase the need for actual corpses and will be a significant improvement over the dummies available in colleges here" said Ruchita Bhansali, a medical practitioner and student.




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