3D printers help surgeons hone their skills on replica body parts

On the table sits the trachea of a 12-month-old child. The plastic model, an accurate re-creation of a windpipe and bronchial tree, was created with a 3D printer using scans from a patient at the Royal Children’s Hospital. It will be used to train paediatric surgeons in bronchoscopy, a procedure in which a tiny camera is guided through the bronchial tubes into the lungs.

”It’s basically a fibre-optic arm with a camera at the end of it,” Mr Finlayson said of the procedure. ”It’s actually quite difficult to manoeuvre. The movements are unique and difficult to practise – creating a bronchial tree enables clinicians to practise before the actual procedure.”

Mr Finlayson, who works in a lab providing training simulations for RCH surgeons, said the technique could drastically increase the breadth of surgeons’ experience, and the number of surgeons prepared to operate in rare scenarios. ”The beauty of 3D printing is that we can create abnormal anatomy that we typically wouldn’t see at high frequency,” he said. … (Read more)

Source: TheAge.com