Medical & Dental

London doctors using 3D printed skull from the 1800s

According to reports, a major advancement has been made today in medical practice as doctors in London revealed a 3D printed model of a toddler’s skull. The 3D printed design is intended to be used to train the neurosurgeons of the future. The model has been named after its creator Martyn Cooke, ‘babyMARTYN’, which also fits into the clever anagram ‘Modeled Anatomical Replica for Training Young Neurosurgeons’.

This may not seem like a major breakthrough at first glance, but since children under the age of 18 cannot have their bodies donated to science this seems to provide the a valuable alternative for young doctors to learn. Particularly with the model providing such likeness to the actual thing without having the need to use real donated cadavers. The 3D design was modeled itself on a skull that dates back to the 1800s and found in London’s, Wellcome Museum.

A very different kind of 3D printed skull design from MyMiniFactory.

The skull was printed using polyurethane resin and created by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS). The gelatin based brain inside the skull features a brain tumor and fluid on the brain in order to simulate the kind of situation that the surgeons would possibly be working on. The 3D printed model, having been based on a scan, is similar in dimension to the real thing. While the gelatin for the brain is used in order to replicate the consistency.

Mr Martyn Cooke, creator and head of conservation of the RCS, said:

These models signal a breakthrough in the way we train surgeons who operate on very small children. [They] should improve the care that children in hospitals receive.

The 3D printed model will likely be taught in collaboration with theory in order to give future neurosurgeons a more hands-on learning approach. The design will also be used by surgeons when preparing for surgeries to help with familiarity about the procedure.

There has been similar stories published recently about using 3D printing in surgery with a new biofabrication unit, as well as schools in Australia utilizing 3D printing also to teach biology. It appears that 3D printing is very useful at providing realistic models of subjects that would otherwise be very difficult to reproduce.

Featured image shows model of skull. Image via Evening Standard.