An international team of researchers has used 3D-printing technology to produce individually-tailored model organs. These dummy organs could one day improve your chances of surviving surgery, by allowing doctors to plan and practice a lifesaving procedure on a realistic replica before putting you to the scalpel.
Surgery is often a matter of life or death. The ability to practice a procedure outside of the operating room on an artificial human, or at least the relevant organ of a patient, can help to prepare a doctor for surgery, and so increase the chances of a patient surviving the procedure.
Not all surgical props are born equal, and there are often limitations as well as benefits to practicing on an artificial human, as they often don’t accurately represent the behavior of their biological counterpart during an operation. For example, some are made from plastics that are much tougher than the tissues of a real organ, and so do not allow physicians to practice certain aspects of an operation, such as suturing a wound.
Last year, we heard about a team of physicians at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) that took a fascinating approach to providing a realistic surgical simulation by melding technology with arts and crafts. The end result was a partially hand-crafted sculpture of an organ, or set of organs, that looked and felt real to the touch, and even bled when cut.