Traditional forms of surgical training have depended on surgeons graduating clinical training inside the operating room under the supervision of senior surgeons. This apprentice-teacher relationship has been labeled as a major bottleneck in the training of congenital heart surgery due to the wide variation and complexities of pathological anatomy. More so, training someone in complex surgical procedures in the operation room puts the patient’s life at risk. Therefore, the healthcare industry has adopted the use of surgical simulations in order to efficiently and safely train new doctors in the field.
With 3D printing, the door has opened to a new world of surgical simulation. With 3D image data of the patient’s CT, MRI and echocardiography, physical recreations of a patient’s heart can be produced. 3D printed models are now used for hands-on surgical practice and training. With further improvements in imaging and additive manufacturing technologies, 3D printed models continue to feature more realistic characteristics such as soft-touch materials that are perfect for surgical training and simulation. Check out the video below to see how the SickKids Hospital in Toronto utilizes 3D printing for surgical training and education.