It has long been a practice in the West to cut up human cadavers for research purposes. However, it is mostly banned today due to cultural, religious, and legal restrictions, something that posed a problem, especially with the increased demand and high costs of getting cadavers. Now, it is even more challenging to use a human body for scientific, medical, or education purposes. But Monash University, the biggest university in Australia, has suggested the use of 3D printers to produce body parts identical to that of a human being.
The concept behind the “3D Printed Anatomy Series” was established by Monash’s experts, who are considering the idea of selling it commercially in the future, with funding from some partners. The model’s artificial human organs may be plastic, without any biological tissue, but they will be printed in exactly the same size, shape, and color as the real ones. This should make for a realistic experiment with a model cadaver.
Dr. Paul McMenamin, director of Monash’s Human Anatomy Education, said that using a model cadaver out of a 3D printer can give a more affordable and simple anatomical kit that will significantly help trainee doctors and other health professionals to study the human body and possibly find new developments regarding surgical treatments.
He said that it has been hundreds of years since medical schools used to give their students human cadavers bequested to them so they can explore more of the human anatomy. However, there are more reports of cadaver shortage or complaints about the increasing cost of handling and storing cadavers due to strict government laws. If these kinds of problems continue to rise, soon enough, medical students may no longer be able to see what’s inside the human body.
It is critical for them to look at tendons, muscles, blood vessels, ligaments, and other body parts for them to have a grasp of what the human anatomy is. He added that if they can develop a realistic version of the human body through 3D printing, it will have a significant impact on the education of future medical students.
3D printed human bodies also provide more benefits than their real counterparts. This is why the anatomical kit that Monash might produce with 3D printers might become popular among research hospitals and universities around the world. This is mainly because they do not stir any religious, moral or legal issue, they do not need to use embalming chemicals as with the embalming of a human cadaver, and they can be created on demand.
All these things make 3D printed bodies a cost-effective alternative to human cadavers. With precise CT scans, these replicas are expected to be the exact replica of the human body.
Dr. McMenamin said that even the thinnest layers in the human body can be perfectly imitated and modeled into a 3D printed body part due to radiographic imaging. Once a 3D model is developed and colored and the resulting file is converted into a format compatible with 3D printers, a three-dimensional anatomical body will be made.