Link: Anatomical models

The Age has an article describing the work of two anatomists who want to bring new high-fidelity plastic models into medical anatomy training: “Buster, the perfect human made of plastic, is the future of anatomy”.

There are VR simulators and screens that can slice a virtual human body in two with the swipe of a finger. But the secret real secret here is a machine, pioneered by Professor McMenamin, that can print out plastic human bodies. No one else in the world can do this.
First, a high-accuracy CT scan of a donor body is obtained. Then, about half-a-million dollars’ worth of cutting-edge 3D printers build a copy out of soft plastic.
They are so accurate, calling them models does not do them justice. Professor McMenamin prefers “replica”.

I know many anatomy professors very well. All of them attest that the experience of learning anatomy with donor cadavers cannot be matched by any artificial model. The gift that donors give when they will their bodies to medical education is precious and irreplaceable. The linked article shares the Australian professors’ view, which is aligned with mine.

But even though there is no replacement for experience with real human cadavers, I see great promise in 3D models to broaden anatomy education. In undergraduate courses, we cannot match the experience of gross anatomy training in the medical school context. Having high-resolution models like these from real individuals would enable us to bring human variation into a much broader sample of courses. That would be helpful for health sciences training by giving pre-med and pre-nursing students more repetitions with better materials. It would also broaden knowledge and training in human anatomy outside of the health professions.