Invention helps students learn surgical techniques before operating on patients

Nov 19, 2010

In the last 50 years, modern medicine has made astounding advances in surgery, yet many of today's veterinary and human medicine students still hone basic surgical and suturing skills on carpet pads and pig's feet before transitioning to a live patient. An invention by Colorado State University veterinarians provides students with artificial body parts that look, feel, behave, and even bleed just like real skin, muscles and vessels.

The artificial replicas of sections of human and animal bodies -- such as an abdominal wall -- give students a realistic learning environment that will bridge the gap between classroom lectures and procedures such as surgical cuts and sutures on real human or animal patients.

"It is a significant, stressful leap for medical and veterinary students from the classroom to the surgery suite," said Dr. Dean Hendrickson, a veterinarian and director of CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital and one of the inventors. "Industry standards for training sometimes actually teach incorrect techniques, or skills that don't translate into real-world situations, so students don't have the ability to realistically prepare for before a live patient. These artificial simulations help students master their technique, dexterity and confidence before they operate for the first time on a person or someone's pet."

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.
A video illustrating this model

The artificial tissues consist of layers of silicone that closely simulate skin, and muscle. Built into the silicone are realistically placed and sized "blood vessels" that are connected to an artificial blood source that supplies the tissue with realistic bleeding. For example, students practicing sutures will experience blood coming into a wound or from both sides of the tissue at realistic locations and rates.

Some models are colored realistically, such as a brown-skinned abdominal wall of a horse, with white layers and red layers representing muscles and tissues. However, students also may use simulated tissue in translucent material so they can better view and understand, for example, suture patterns from a three-dimensional perspective while learning correct stitches.

"Our hope is that, with this model, we can begin to help build better skills that will make for better outcomes," said Dr. Fausto Bellezzo, a co-creator of the technology with Hendrickson. Bellezzo is also a veterinarian and researcher at CSU's Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

The creators are working with CSU Ventures to identify investors and partners to advance development of the model for teaching animal and human medicine. CSU Ventures is a subsidiary corporation of the Colorado State University Research Foundation, a private, non-profit foundation that helps the university move technologies from the university into the commercial sector. The foundation has filed a provisional patent for the technology.

Explore further: Twitter increasingly used to share urological meeting info

Provided by Colorado State University

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Robot teaches medical school students

Aug 10, 2006

Wake Forest University School of Medicine students expecting a lecture on the brain and nervous system instead find themselves treating a robotic patient.

NC State vets lead way in disaster response for animals

Dec 08, 2009

Most people can picture the first responders who come to the rescue in the wake of a natural disaster. But who provides emergency help for the dogs, cats and horses that people love? And who takes care of ...

Teamwork increases student learning and career success

Nov 02, 2007

A two-year study of college students at The Pennsylvania State University (PSU) proves that students learn better and develop higher-level skills by participating in cooperative (team) activities, compared ...

'Womb' service for student midwives

Jul 19, 2006

A pregnant robot will offer a helping hand to student midwives, as they learn to cope with the most complex of births before ever meeting a real mother.

Recommended for you

Exploring 3-D printing to make organs for transplants

Jul 30, 2014

Printing whole new organs for transplants sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie, but the real-life budding technology could one day make actual kidneys, livers, hearts and other organs for patients ...

High frequency of potential entrapment gaps in hospital beds

Jul 30, 2014

A survey of beds within a large teaching hospital in Ireland has shown than many of them did not comply with dimensional standards put in place to minimise the risk of entrapment. The report, published online in the journal ...

Key element of CPR missing from guidelines

Jul 29, 2014

Removing the head tilt/chin lift component of rescue breaths from the latest cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines could be a mistake, according to Queen's University professor Anthony Ho.

Burnout impacts transplant surgeons (w/ Video)

Jul 28, 2014

Despite saving thousands of lives yearly, nearly half of organ transplant surgeons report a low sense of personal accomplishment and 40% feel emotionally exhausted, according to a new national study on transplant surgeon ...

User comments : 0