Shape Up Medical School! 3D Printing Instead of Human Cadavers
Medical School students have long used human cadavers in their training for diagnosis, treatment and surgery before they begin practicing with real patients. With improvements in 3D printing technology, realistic artificial body parts can be produced rather than relying on corpses. The U.S. military is currently evaluating this opportunity.
Such artificial body parts would “ideally not be actual biological tissues,” but instead would consist of materials that could physically simulate the feel of flesh and bone. Success in printing out entire body part sections containing bone, muscle, skin and blood vessels could lead to lower medical training costs and cut back on the need for animal or human cadavers.
“If such technology were possible, a wide variety of human anatomy sections could be printed on demand,” according to a U.S. Defense Health Program solicitation for small business issued on May 11.
The 3D printed artificial body parts would also ideally allow for normal CT or MRI medical scans, so that physicians could practice interpreting the scan images before diving in with scalpels. The U.S. military effort could also presumably benefit American physicians and medical schools back on the home front.
Medical School photo by uonottingham used under Creative Commons license.