Updated: Apr 28, 2021
It is known that surgeons and residents need cadavers for educational purposes, but these are difficult to come by, especially when you’re looking for specific pathologies. However, there are multiple drawbacks to cadaveric training. Preparation and storage of the specimens are time-consuming and costly. A quick slip or mistaken cut can lead to the destruction of the organ or system, which hinders the education of all the students reliant on that cadaver to learn the procedure.
It relies upon donations, which are limited, and it is therefore vital that specimens are used for training in a way that will provide the greatest benefit. Perhaps of greatest significance is the lack of direct evidence relating simulated cadaveric techniques with in vivo operating performance.
Cadavers are an extraordinary expense for medical schools, between 2.000 USD and 3.000 USD for a whole-body cadaver, where medical schools pay for transportation, embalming, and storage. Besides, in the United States, only 20,000 bodies are donated to science every year, which is barely enough to satisfy a population of more than 27,000 surgical residents.
In response to the high cost of cadaver labs, simulation has long played a role in the acquisition of skills in healthcare. It is also known that simulation training for inexperienced surgeons can safeguard patients and improve clinical outcomes since it is easy to backtrack from mistakes and avoid wasting hours of work. Simulation training provides the opportunity to develop surgical skills in a controlled environment whilst minimizing risks to patient safety, surgical room usage, and financial expenditure. The evidence for its direct transferability to surgical room performance is limited but there are clear benefits such as increasing trainee confidence and familiarity with the equipment.
However, there are certain cases that have not been replicated in the standard simulators, the rarity of cases and relatively low general incidence of particular diseases, presents challenges to ensure that trainees have adequate exposure to procedures that can help them become well-trained surgeons. Perse, changing patterns of health care delivery and the rapid evolution of orthopedic surgical techniques have made it increasingly difficult for trainees to develop expertise in their craft. Working hour restrictions and a drive towards senior-led care demands that proficiency be gained in a shorter period of time whilst requiring a greater skill set than that in the past.
The medical field is heavily relying on 3D printing technologies, digital trends, telehealth, artificial intelligence, and robotics.
Considering that the complexity of what the residents are studying requires varied approaches, the continued advances in technology have led to improved realism and increased availability of simulators, which may help to compensate for the reduced real-time surgical experience of current surgeons in training. 3D printing has already proven to be a technology that can provide the means to recreate key points of anatomy for anatomical and procedural learning.
Moving in this direction, Techfit Digital Surgery proposes a balance between tradition and technology, providing surgeons with a Surgery CAD Lab, where visual, tactile, and manipulative observations can be done: Digital Surgery allows predictability. In this module it is possible to digitally define the patient, the surgical field, and the surgical problem or task at hand; to operate based on information, rather than based on anatomic knowledge alone. CAD labs also work as training to generate muscle memory, implement image-guided navigation, and telementoring. 3D printed models allow us to replicate complex pathologies, teach and learn the skills required in the OR, resulting in a significant resource for surgeons both regionally and globally.
By using Techfit Digital Surgery CAD Lab, we aim to provide institutions across the world with a cost-effective, easily available “in-house”, and feasible means of surgery simulation for surgical trainees and to encourage other rapid prototyping laboratories to investigate innovative means for creating educational surgical platforms
It will allow the next generation surgeon to safely and successfully perform complex surgery, then Making custom the new standard
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Using 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing) to Produce Low-Cost Simulation Models for Medical Training - Scientific Figure on ResearchGate. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Molds-for-silicone-lens-were-designed-using-computer-aided-design-and-were-then_fig6_324473543 [accessed 6 Apr, 2021]
Newman, C. (2021, February 10). Digital cadavers are replacing real ones. But should they? Science. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/digital-cadavers-are-replacing-real-ones-but-should-they-future-medicine#:%7E:text=The%20medical%20school%20opened%20in,cost%20%2470%2C000%20each%2C%20he%20says.
Atallah, S. (2020). Digital Surgery (1st ed., Vol. 1). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-49100-0