3D Skulls Help Train Future ENT Doctor For Easier and Safer Results

3D printing is doing more for modern medicine than ever before, including helping train future physicians. According to UVA Today, 3D printed skulls from the University of Virginia (UVA) are helping future ear, nose, and throat doctors perform common nasal procedures such as a nasal endoscopy.

These life-like skulls are derived from the actual MRI and CT scans of real patients, and they are helping future physicians see, feel, and understand the dimensions of a skull’s anatomy.

Initially, the skulls were intended for trainees in the otolaryngology department at the university, but they’re now becoming a huge asset for students and residents in related fields, like neurosurgery.

Dr. Jose Gurrola, a nose specialist, along with Dr. Robert Reed, an otolaryngology resident, and Dwight Dart, a design lab engineer at the UVA School of Engineering and Applied Science’s Rapid Prototyping 3-D Printing Lab all worked together to create the skulls for rhinological surgical simulation.

Dr. Gurrola realized there was a growing need for training equipment that was life-like, but not human, to help ease the nerves of many newly minted residents. For many of these individuals, there is no step that occurs before performing their first procedure on a human patient or each other.  

Dr. Gurrola hopes these 3D models will not only bridge an important gap between books and bedside manner, but they will also boost the confidence of patients and residents. He also commented that the 3D models come with additional benefits: they are reusable, cheap to produce, and they are readily available to trainees.

“For the most part, surgical training is still a process where trainees pass through a continuum that still looks a lot like the ‘see one, do one, teach one’ model of old,” Dr. Robert Reed said to UVA Today. “Our hope is that with the continued development of simulations such as this, we can improve upon this model.”

According to the article, improvements may come in the form of sensors and fluid lines implanted in the models. These additions will help trainees better react to situations that may arise during a routine procedure like nasal endoscopy. That way, the experience is as realistic as possible and students get the best training possible.

To learn more about the 3D skulls being used at the University of Virginia, please visit http://bit.ly/2aszEoS.

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The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician before taking any advice learned here or in any other educational medical material.